Got Five Minutes?

Monty Roberts changed the way horses are tamed forever. As a boy, he remembers his father horse-tying the young bucks for days, waiting for them to “break.” In the old days, that was how it was done: you broke their will, you made them fearful of you.

Instead, young Monty watched wild horses on the California plains and understood what social animals they were. Bad behavior was punished by exile, which was intolerable for a horse.

So he found a way to “break” a horse just by entering into a ring with it, driving it away, allowing it get its rebellious streak out, and then… turning his back on it. The horse eventually came to Monty, and the two become fast friends.

He’s done this with thousands of wild horses, detailed exquisitely in “The Man Who Listens to Horses.” If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it. It’s chock-full of practical advice, not only for horses, but for people, leadership and friendship skills as well. One of the many nuggets I’ve adored over the years explains his mentality when he walks into the ring with a new horse:

“If you act like you only have five minutes, it’ll take all day. If you act like you have all day, it’ll only take five minutes.”

I first tested this advice when I would take my motorino to my mechanic here in Italy. If I said, “I need it by Tuesday,” he would say, “Impossible. Maybe by Friday.”

Instead, if I said, “When do you think you can have this ready?”, and he responded saying “Friday,” I would say, “OK, I really need it by Tuesday but I guess that’s ok.” Inevitably he would call Monday to say it was ready.

This nugget extends to everything. Even our own fixing up.

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