Good horsemanship is built on solid basics…so is good business!

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
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on Wednesday, 22 January 2014
in Reflections & Serendipity

A Little Fun, A Little Reflection


Happy New Year! As it turns out, 2014 is the Year of the Horse in the Chinese culture. And I was born in the Year of the Horse, so what does that mean? It’s fun to take a glimpse at your life through this lens and I am always curious to see what’s being projected for me along these lines. Susan Leavitt is an astrologer, tarot card reader and feng shui consultant and says this about 2014: “The Wood Horse year is a time of fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprising romance. It is an excellent year for travel, and the more far away and off the beaten path the better. Energy is high and production is rewarded. Decisive action, not procrastination, brings victory. But you have to act fast in a Horse year. If you are not 100% secure about a decision, then don’t do it. Events move so quickly in a Horse year that you don’t want to gallop off in the wrong direction.”

Wow! Interesting especially since I wanted to focus this post around getting outside your comfort zone and finding something that you can be “all in” for. I was fortunate to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2013. From Nov 26 to Dec 12, I was in Ethiopia, visiting my niece in the Peace Corps. Friends and colleagues said “Have fun!” as they would for any trip one might take. But thinking of going to a third world country inspired more feelings of adventure in me than the fun, rest, and relaxation as a typical vacation trip might. My comments in response also remarked on the fact that the trip would put me outside my comfort zone, and I hadn’t been there in awhile. I considered this a good thing. In reflection, there are many years in the past where I pushed the envelope, took chances (albeit calculated), and stretched myself regularly. I can see that the past couple of years I’ve been happy to enjoy status quo. And now that I can see that clearly, it’s time to find new ways to push myself, learn and grow.

The trip to Ethiopia was amazing. How quickly we felt like newbies, uncertain, and vulnerable. It was comforting to discover that my niece and her colleagues had good command of the language and were well-integrated into their communities. The result was that we saw the best things in each region we visited and were able to hire great guides and drivers that took good care of us. For me, much of the trip was like stepping back in time as horses, donkeys, mules, and cattle are all used for work/production purposes only. And the chance to see so much wildlife in its natural habitat was wonderful.

Being around the Peace Corps volunteers was very interesting too. They are all young adults and filled with a ton of energy. One left a particularly indelible stamp. If they ever remake the Indiana Jones movies, he should be cast as Indiana Jones. He remarked with enthusiasm and sincerity that when he made the decision to join Peace Corps, he was doing so and committing himself to be “all in.” And all in he is! He sees everything as an opportunity, and is game to try whatever comes his way. I remember being like that in younger adult days and would love to have some of that joie de vivre again. Don’t get me wrong. Life has been very good and even relaxing. I don’t want to give that up, just add more magic.

This time of year finds many of us looking back at the past year and evaluating it as a whole. We consider what went well and what didn’t. And then, hopefully with this information in view and utilizing its lessons, we mull over where we’d like to go in the year ahead. So now it is up to me and here’s my hope for 2014:

1)Find at least one way to push my comfort zone during the year.

2)Discover or rediscover something that inspires me to be “all in.”


How about you? What have you set your sites on for 2014? I hope you’ll take a few moments to share that here.

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About the author

Lisa Derby Oden

I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that is! Early in my career I owned and operated Derby Farm, a riding stable in Buxton, Maine. I have also worked as a freelance riding instructor and bring all this practical experience to my consulting work. Blue Ribbon Consulting focuses on business and nonprofit development in the equine industry. I provide evaluation, planning, research, marketing and problem-solving services to take you successfully through all your horse business transitions. I've worked with clients around the world, and have received state and national honors for my work in the equine industry. Since I love this industry and believe in it, I've also been a nonprofit founder, board member, and executive officer for local, state and national organizations. I've worked with nonprofits in strategic planning, program development, corporate development, fundraising, grant writing and grant administration. Part of this wonderful journey has also allowed me to serve as adjunct faculty and guest lecturer at several universities, and to deliver business development, marketing, and leadership seminars throughout the United States. I also developed and oversaw the Entrepreneurs Resource Center for a community college. I've published two books, have been a columnist and freelance writer for many trade publications, and am a partner in the CD series “Inventing Your Horse Career.”


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