What Are The Odds?

I’ve always been fascinated by people. What makes them tick and how did they come to be in this world?

The odds of any one of us being born is one in four hundred trillion.

1 out of 400,000,000,000,000.

Try to get your head around that.

Sometimes it feels like the odds of being successful in life are the same as being born. Of course, how you define success is up to you. I define success as a table having four legs:

  • Having close friendships
  • Earning enough resources
  • Love
  • Producing meaningful work

When you are missing one of the legs, you are left with a three-legged stool. It’s still functional, but wobbly.

Jerzy Gregorek, four-time World Weightlifting Champion, is famous for saying, “Easy decisions, hard life. Hard decisions, easy life.”

I think of this often.

Three years ago, someone asked if I was ready for my next chapter, as I was dissolving my business, horses and all. Despite her sincerity, I wanted to scream ‘NO!’ How can you ever be ready to walk away from what you love most in this world? It was an incredibly painful, and sad, decision to make.

A few equestrians have reached out to me over the last several years. They want to know how I did it. How do you transition out of horses into something else? Like most things in life, there’s an easy way and there’s a hard way to do things.

The easy way is to transition into something else horse related—be a sales rep for any number of companies selling to the equestrian market; work at the local tack store or feed store; work for a vet; braid at as many of the big shows as you can; clip horses until you have fur spitting out of every orifice; change disciplines—work at a racing barn riding or doing the bookkeeping or both. You can piecemeal a few things together that make up a new career, just a slightly different one.

Staying in the horse industry might be a good fit for you, but sometimes changing positions within the business is more of a lateral move than an upward one. Maybe that’s okay because they offer flexible hours, benefits, weekends off, or the opportunity to work from home, and that’s more important to you than climbing the esoteric ladder.

But maybe you decide you want to do something else entirely. The problem is you don’t know what. It’s the “fear of the unknown” that stops people in their tracks. So how do you find out what’s available to you? 

Serendipity is the golden child born from The Law of Proximity.

Show up.  Ask.  Dig around.

Case in point: I met a girl from UT who followed her cousin to DC to “reinvent herself.” This was because she had a free place to crash. She quit her teaching job the year before. She hated it. When she got to DC, she called a temp agency, and landed a position as an administrative assistant.

Guess what? The boss liked her. She did an excellent job. He helped her to get the certifications and licenses to sell insurance. She still works for the same company, but now in a different position—one with much more upward mobility.

She relocated back to UT, bought a house, and splits her time between working from home and travelling to see customers. Her life did a 180*. She accomplished this in eighteen months. And she learned as she earned.

When the unexpected all comes together, this is serendipity.

Show up.  Ask.  Dig around.

When I knew it was my time to shift gears, I started to put the word out. This is nothing more than spitballing, but it works. You are starting to create something new.

I began by volunteering with a start-up. I met the owner of the business at the Upperville Horse Show. When it was clear they didn’t have enough money to pay me, I switched gears again. But I didn’t walk away empty-handed. I learned a lot in the process and met some smart people.

Next, a friend told me about another position available. She handed me a name and a phone number.

I chased it down.

On the other end of the phone, the guy said, “You’ve never sold this kind of stuff before.”

I was nice, but there was an edge to my voice. I countered, “I’ve sold myself, and I’ve sold expensive horses, for the last twenty years. I think I can sell a shirt.”

It was hard for him to argue that.

Following that, my next job came from someone I had known a long time, but not well. I started going to a different yoga class, and boom, there she was. We made small talk and I asked what she did for a living. It sounded awesome. In quick time, I jumped from selling stuff I didn’t really care about, to writing and editing a business magazine.

It was a monumental leap in my career.

Because of that job, I met someone at a conference in California, who later offered me another job, that I took and I still have.

Show up.  Ask.  Dig around.

Money isn’t everything, but you do need to have enough. It was the one leg of the table I was missing with the riding, so it was my focus when I left. You can call it luck, chance, serendipity, or the Law of Attraction, but for every job I was offered (after the start-up), I picked a number they would have to meet in order for me to accept the job.

And that was always the number they offered.

To the dollar.

The moral of the story is picture what it is you want, in detail—but don’t cling to any one idea. Just like riding cross-country, you have a clear idea of how you want it to go when you get on course. What happens when you actually get out there can be very different than what you pictured happening on your preparatory course walk.

A good rider deals with what she’s got and improvises, which is adjusting and not clinging to the idea of “how it was supposed to work out.” Changing careers is not much different. Have an idea of how you want it to ideally work, and look-like, and then get ready to roll with the punches.

Don’t forget, equestrians come equipped with a vast skill-set. Your number one asset is YOU. How you interact with people, otherwise known as your emotional intelligence, is your business card.

Your other skills are:

  • Problem-solving
  • Managing many different types of people
  • Communicating well with many different types of people
  • Good organization skills
  • Hard-working
  • Good under pressure and with deadlines
  • Conflict resolution and the ability to mediate
  • A clear understanding of budgeting, purchasing, reconciling the books

And the list continues with whatever other talents and education you possess.

But what if you don’t have any formal education? Or money?

A lot of organizations have tuition reimbursement. With this model, you can earn as you learn, so you limit your debt significantly. You might also qualify for a scholarship based on income or merit.

And you don’t have to do a four-year degree. Look at certification programs.

Dig around. Do your homework. Don’t get stuck on any one idea.

Did you know the average person’s lifetime is construed of approximately 22-million seconds?

Sounds like a lot, but compared to the odds of being born, it’s a blink of an eye.

And it is.

It all goes so fast.

Think about what you’re doing, what you’d like your life to look like, and start to put the pieces together. Going through life in default mode and just doing what’s in front of you and easy is no different than being a person who doesn’t vote. Your choice not to vote is your vote. Choosing to operate in default mode is your choice. You have to own it, whether it’s your actions or your inactions, it’s still all yours.

There was a grocery store I used to shop at a lot. One of the checkout cashiers, who was always there, was a lady who looked well over 70. I couldn’t help but wonder, what landed her there? Did she still have family? Where were her kids? What about a husband? Does she just need to fill her time? Earn pocket money?  Or did she run out of savings?

I don’t know anything about this woman or her life. This was all mumble-jumble in my head. I just couldn’t shake the feeling she was tired, and didn’t really want to be there, despite her pleasant demeanor. Yet there she was.

At the risk of sounding dystopian, Forbes recycled their article from a year ago titled “People are raising $650 Million on GoFundMe Each Year To Attack Rising Healthcare Costs” (August 13, 2018).

This isn’t meant to incite panic, but it definitely paints a clear picture.

What are the odds you will host a GoFundMe to pay your bills?

Garry Kasparov said, “Fear of failure prevents people from taking risks, yet taking risks is necessary for progress.”

Seth Godin takes this idea even further.

“If failure is not an option, then, most of the time, neither is success.”

Use fear to help you, not hinder you, and more importantly, know the difference.

Pretty soon, no one will have the option to be a grocery-store checkout cashier to help pay the bills. Just think about that.

Change is hard. But it would be just as hard for a corporate professional to hang her shingle up as a professional equestrian. Trying to cross from one industry to another is challenging, but it’s not impossible. And it doesn’t matter whether you only want to stay in the equine industry, just in a different way. Everyone trying to attain progress in their lives must get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Easy decisions, hard life. Hard decisions, easy life.

So, what are the odds you’ll face your fears and take the risk?

Suck it up, Buttercup. After all, sucking it up is what Eventers do! And if you want this, you got it.



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