I have been volunteering at Loudon Therapeutic Riding for the past six months, and lately, one question has been dogging me: Why has this place lasted fifty years, and evolved to be one of the premium operations of its kind? What’s going right here? What could other programs be replicating, if they only knew what a difference it would make? I will ask the operations director what she thinks contributes most to the program’s success, (and I wish I could ask the horses).
Horse barns come and go. The business is subject to a thousand whims of fate. Did the hay crop get rained on? Did the tireless schoolmaster gelding take a bad step and now has to be on lay up for six months? Either surprise could affect the bottom line to the tune of thousands of dollars.
For therapeutic barns, the challenges multiply with significant certification requirements, a unique client population, and enormous funding demands (wheel chair ramps, mats, adaptive equipment, annual trainings…). But somehow, LTR has not only persisted, but thrived.
I am prone to asking what’s wrong. What have I missed? Where did I lose my momentum today? Those kinds of questions have value up to a point–especially when revising a manuscript–but they assume that all problems have solutions, and diligent inquiry will reveal the answers.
And yet, the advice authors hear over and over is not, “Obsess on your flaws and imperfections,” but rather, “Play to your strengths. If you love social media, make that the centerpiece of your marketing footprint. If you are a natural networker, look for anthologies to join. Focus on what’s working, and do more of that. You will never solve the whole Rubik’s cube, but you can focus on what you do best as an author, and what processes work best for you.”
So my challenge to me, during this most wonderful time of the year (because No Bugs), will be to look for what’s going right, for what pleases me and surprises me in a good way, for what deserves a second look simply because my experience was problem-free or maybe even positive. And then I am going say something–to thank somebody, to offer a compliment, to write a happy little review.
There are enough critics in the world, and my capacity for analytical thinking too often gets fixated on the pea under the mattress. I am asking myself to make the effort to also admire the bed hangings, the comfy pillows, and the lovely quilt going forward, and maybe there won’t BE as many stupid little peas.
What have you noticed lately going right, being done right, working just as it should or maybe even better?
Lord Julian’s series opener, A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times, is free in the web store for the whole month of December, as is What a Lady Needs for Christmas. On my Deals page, I also list a half dozen shorter reads (we’re busy, busy, busy these days, I know) that are free and exclusive to the web store.