Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  


What I know…

      Not much it seemsI am so confused.  Seems when I was younger, I knew all sorts of things.  Now I struggle to find anything I know…for sure, I mean.  And one area – one question in particular – haunts me constantly.  How is it – why is it – that some people seem to be so effective?  And others are not.  They both work in the same buildings, teach the same kids, train the same horses, work in the same business, and some do well – and others do not.  Why is that?
     One man or woman can get seventh-graders to do anything, and the kids never make a sound.  Another is pulling her hair out, and the room is filled with chaos.  One guy can get “it” from a horse, and another can only say, “I’ve tried everything I know.  He’s no good.”  What on earth is different?
     Some thirty miles south of where I live a community of 30,000 has a Healthcare system.  The facility is older but beautiful, staffed with highly qualified personnel, and they possess all the latest technology.  The community loves the place.  Rave reviews.  Some thirty miles north of where I live a community of 30,000 also has a Healthcare system with brand new buildings, highly qualified staff, and all the high-tech equipment anyone could ever want.  The community hates the place. 
“Don’t go there,” they say.  “They will kill you.”  Hmmmm…
     Why is that?  I have an idea…maybe.
     We do a terrible job of preparing people for leadership roles.
We don’t tell them what works - ‘cause we haven’t thought about what works.
     I don’t mean just schools.  I mean schools, parents, higher educational institutions, businesses…and me.  We all do a poor job of preparing people for leadership roles.  Sometimes we get lucky and get a good one.  Rare, but it does happen.  Those good ones change our lives.  The good ones help us change our ways.  They make us well.  Those bad ones change our lives, too…and they make us sick.
     Bad managers, bad teachers, and bad horse trainers have something in common.  They want to be seen as important and competent.  So they bark, they demand, have no patience, rarely remember anyone’s name, blame everyone except themselves, take all the credit, and their favorite word is “I.”  Good leaders on the other hand rarely raise their voice, always ask pleasantly, have the patience of Job, call everyone by name, take all the blame, give all the credit, and have two favorite words… “you,” and “we.”  Those are the traits good leaders possess.  If the bad ones want to be important, why on earth don’t they do the things good leaders do? 
     Sometimes at a roping, you see a person in the arena jerking his horse around and kicking and cussing the fool he’s riding.  Why does he do that?  Because he wants people to know it’s not his fault.  He wants everyone in the stands to know he is saddled with a fool.  Problem is - everyone in the stands knows who the fool is - because no true horseman would ever behave that way. 
     It’s common to see the same thing with working dogs.  When the dog doesn’t respond correctly, the handler administers harsh punishment - and yells and hits.  He wants everyone to know he was just so unlucky to end up with this stupid dog. 
But everyone watching knows… the dog wasn’t all that lucky either.
     So in all these years, I haven’t learned much at all… 
     Don’t know much about history
     Don’t know much biology
     Don’t know much about a science book
     Don’t know much about the French I took
     Don’t know much geography
     Don’t know much trigonometry
     Don’t know much about algebra
     Don’t know what a slide rule is for…
But I have learned this…
     To do anything of real value…
     we must get past blaming the horse and the dog.

--Michael Johnson                          
(with a little help from Sam Cooke)




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