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Not Good Enough To Be a Pro

As I look back at my history in the sport of show jumping I think I would have some advice for my younger self: “You don’t have to show everybody all that you think you know.” I have heard it is better to let everyone think you a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.

When I was in my early 20’s I thought I would make a career out of teaching riding – beginning right away! Ha! Can you imagine all the things I didn’t even know that I needed to know back then? And still now going forward. What will I think of my 2018 self in 10+ years?

There’s more to it than sport knowledge. It’s also knowing how to teach, it’s knowing when to push, it’s having experienced failure, it’s not being afraid of your failure or someone else’s, it’s knowing when failure is a good thing. All of these things I see in great coaches and I’m in awe.

I was recently riding in a Paul Belasik clinic (Classical Dressage master). On the Saturday night there was a lecture of sorts where he read from is yet-to-be published book in which he says, “Good teaching pushes students out of their comfort zone. Good teachers are not afraid of failure.” I was really taken by this important, albeit simple, message because as a teacher I was very fearful of failure. Maybe because I haven’t come through enough of it in my own life yet with our letting it really get me down I can’t imagine creating that for someone else because I pushed them there.

Sometimes I see young professionals and I wonder why are you doing this so young? It’s a lot of pressure for a young person to put on themselves.

And then I see them going through the same struggles I did. Taking every client that comes to your door because you need to make a business. Never stopping to ask yourself. “Can I really help this person? Will I have something to offer them? Do I want to? Are they a good student for my skill set?”

I’m not saying people shouldn’t become professionals at a young age, although in my case I got my amateur status back and plan on staying this way. I am reminded all the time that I don’t have to show everybody what I think I know. Really that’s how it should be, the worst thing to do in any business/sport/or skill is to think you have it all figured out. The people at the top level of any business or sport are the people who are still willing to learn.

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