Sitting in the boardroom, the conversation turned to me. The multi billion dollar mining contract was going south, and as the Client Director, the Senior Executives in the room were looking for explanations and somewhere to lay the blame.
The thing that I find most interesting about human behaviour, is that there are two types of bosses. One who is a leader that engages, listens and offers support to bring the problem to a conclusion, and the other, who manages situations by assumptions, jumping to conclusions, encourages a blame game culture and makes decisions shooting from the hip. This meeting certainly had all the characteristics of the later.
As all 9 pairs of eyes shifted to me, I felt numb. I started to go into my shell and bunker down for the barrage of abuse that was about to come my way, then something switched on inside of me.
For a split second, I was back riding Samson. I was back in the moment that I lost control and was being flung off his back at galloping pace. I was terrified, but this time, in my head, I was expecting it and was able to change my energy, change my reaction and in turn, change the outcome.
It was soon after my accident that my next door neighbour came over with some natural horseman books that her daughter had many years earlier. I didn’t know what natural horsemanship was but was keen to understand given my conflict between the fear of getting back on the horse and the desire to re-establish my relationship with Sam.
I had heard many times in my riding tutorship, use your energy, keep your energy up, walk the horse forward with energy.
I worked in the Mining and Power industry and energy was the stuff that powered the mines, or the stuff that I was clean out of at the end of the working day. I really didn’t understand what they meant, but nodded my head vigorously in agreement.
As I progressed slowly through the natural horsemanship books and you tubes, I learnt about energy. I learnt about communication and I learnt about how to keep changing my body language and energy until my partner in my riding relationship (Sam) understood what I wanted and why. We moved ahead in leaps and bounds.
So here I was back in the boardroom wishing I had worn my kevlar vest to work, when I used my energy to change the mood. I remember standing, grabbing the white board pen and mapping the plan to recapture the production loss. I changed my body language to work as a partnership with the executives in the room and every time an assault was coming, I accepted is as fear on their behalf and not blame towards me.
As a group, we mapped out what we could change and what we couldn’t change and then worked to develop a tactical action process to move into a cost saving mode.
That meeting was one of the defining moments in my career.
We lost about $1.3 Billion off the $6 Billion dollar contract, but we worked strongly with the customer and communicated our position clearly to a result in mutually successful outcome that saw us pick up an additional contract about 18 months after.
I was promoted not long after that and continue to grow professionally through my experiences from Natural Horsemanship and learning from my relationship with my horses.
As I reflect on the accident and the things that I have learnt as a direct result and the opportunities that I have taken because of the same, I have to wonder if that day, that is forever etched in my memory, was actually the start of the best years of my life.