by Martha Pasternack
When the time is right, the cattle are moved from winter pastures to the high country for a summer of open range grazing on fresh, green grass. The entire ranching family is involved in the cattle drive along our rural highways to higher ground.
Cowboy Grandpa and Grand Dame Grandma look like they were born in their saddles. Cowboy Junior and family are the most numerous and know the ropes after years of mentoring with Grandpa and Grandma. Even the grandkids, wearing oversized hats that make their ears stick out at 90-degree angles and riding horses much bigger than their short little legs can straddle, have their important jobs to do. I have rarely seen such focused attention in a child. These little kids have very serious looks on their faces as they bob up and down on their saddles like bouncy-balls with their legs at 45 degrees from the horse’s muscular flank. So far I have never seen one bounce off the back of their horse, which is a miracle, given the power of gravity.
These mutigenerational cowboys and cowgirls are professional and keep it all going in the desired direction with thoughts, breaths, yips, whistles and hey-yahs! that all apparently mean something to the dogs, horses and each other. I can tell by the responsiveness of all involved.
They are focused, confident and secure in their work and the value it brings to the larger community. They set their schedule based on efficiency, support, weather and intuition. They work as a team and laugh at each other’s jokes. And are they organized? You betcha!
Their horses are professional; I can tell that too by the way they move without any apparent commands. Even the dogs are professionals. They know exactly what to do as they scurry in circles, spirals and figure eights, nipping at hooves and dodging head butts from the irritated herd.
The cattle go where they are told to go but by the sound of their bellowing are none too happy about the disruption and uncertainty of the journey. I guess they must trust these guys beyond reason.
For me, and other drivers of motorized vehicles, the cattle drive is a lesson in patience as we inch our way slowly through the herd. We wait until we are waved ahead by one of the cowgirls.
When an itty-bitty calf decides to take a nap in the middle of the road her Momma will stop and stare fiercely through the windshield daring the driver to disturb her baby. Out of nowhere, a gentle cowboy will saunter over, pick up the calf, drape it over his saddle, tip his hat and move out of the way. The mother cow protectively follows her baby.
So, we wait again. We wait for them to be on the same side of the road. Heaven forbid you are in the car that separates a cow from her calf. She does not like that and may actually try to bump you AND your car out of her way. These creatures are huge and when staring through a windshield appear gigantic. They resist being rushed.
I personally love to wait because it gives me time to stare at this decades old ritual of western life in living color and soak it in. Now, you may think I am going to talk more about patience. Well, I am not. What I really want to address is professionalism.
The definition of a professional, according to my computer’s dictionary, follows (edited a lot by me).
Here is some of what I observe as professional when I am patiently waiting during a cattle drive and how what I see relates to the IAC coaching masteries:
I am not suggesting that coaching is akin to a cattle drive. Well, maybe I am. As professional coaches, certain things promote our expertise; things like commitment, flexibility, and focus. Refer to the above list, which is an example of how the IAC Masteries are reflected back from life all around us. (In this case, from a cattle drive in the rural Southwest.)
Take a look around your life this spring. What IAC Masteries are being reflected back to you? Please share!