Your Greatest Potential for Success

Reed Kessler and Cylana at The National Horse Show.

By Cathy Penrod

He who fails to plan is planning to fail. Winston Churchill

It is said that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. What path will you be taking? Give yourself the greatest potential for success by creating goals that are clear from the inside out. Without the confusion of doubt and the thought process that there are solutions and opportunities for everything good and bad that crosses your path, success is usually not a matter of it, it’s only a matter of time.

The process of mastery is a combination of planning, commitment, and evaluation/feedback – and then, if warranted, modification. How are you planning and creating powerful goals, so you can move in the direction of mastery? Are your goals based on performance expectations, outcome or mastering your ride?

Your Ideal Performance

Start with the end in mind by looking at your ideal performance. Imagine that you are riding at the top of your game. You are absolutely and completely satisfied in all ways including how you internally showed up for this performance.

Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ going for the final fence at the hail mary long spot (Winner) in the jump-off of the $250,000 Canadian Pacific Grand Prix at The National Horse Show

With as much detail as possible, what would you have done and accomplished? How would you feel before and after your performance? Now, imagine your performance is over, what feedback would you receive? How important are these comments?

Now, think about the qualities, beliefs, attitudes, and skills you would need to have/exhibit for this ideal performance to occur.

With the above in mind, what goals and mind shift do you need to have to ride to your ideal performance?

Different Types of Goals

Since we are all different and what motivates one versus another can vary significantly, set goals that work for you and will help you perform better. Here are types of goals, in increasing order of energetic power:

Performance – avoidance: Goals in which you demonstrate and validate your abilities by avoiding looking incompetent or underperforming. These goals can create anxiety and judgment.

McLain Ward and Rothchild (2nd) in the jump-off of the $250,000 Canadian Pacific Grand Prix at The National Horse Show

Performance – approach: Goals in which you demonstrate and validate your abilities by achieving a specific outcome, or by outperforming others. Performance-approach goals can be useful as motivators, although because they depend on an outcome, they are also associated with judgment.

Mastery Goals: Goals which are designed to increase your competency, understanding, and long-term success. Mastery goals are not dependent of on a particular outcome, as all outcomes can lead to learning and growth.

Core Goals: goals that reflect your ultimate desired results.

Know What You Really Want

Most confuse performance goals with ultimate goals. In other words, we believe that what we are looking for is the outcome itself, when in fact, the ultimate goal is the feeling of satisfaction, triumph, peace, happiness, or joy that occurs once the goal is achieved.

For example, if you want to win as champion and you achieved that, you’d probably have a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Or you’d gain respect in the eyes of your fellow riders. Your core goal was what you get as a result of that win – the satisfaction, respect, and sense of accomplishment.

Why do you ride? Explore your true goal. Write your main goal with respect to performing, then write what feeling you will gain from attaining it. Try to pick a single word and finally, write “by when” you will achieve your goal.

Guaranteed Success Game Plan

Sometimes, we get derailed and stressed because our performance is not going the way we’d hoped it would.

Georgina Bloomberg and Juvina (3rd) in the jump-off of the $250,000 Canadian Pacific Grand Prix at The National Horse Show

The ABC method of setting performance goals allows us to consciously set goals BEFORE we perform. Having an ideal plan (plan A), a backup plan (plan B), and a backup to the backup plan, called a safety net plan (plan C), ensures that you will ALWAYS be successful in your performance.

Your “A” plan is ideal – that’s the ideal outcome you could experience through any given situation.

Your backup B occurs when you can’t achieve your “A” plan and you then change your focus to gain something more achievable, and still valuable. And if neither your A nor B plans work, Plan C changes the focus again so that you still experience a successful performance. Remember it is up to you to decide what success is, and making a conscious choice in the moment as described here allows you to choose success as you define it in the moment. Think about an ABC plan for your next performance, lesson or ride.

Lastly, make time to celebrate all your accomplishments, no matter big or small.


This article was originally printed in the November/December 2014 print issue of The Plaid Horse Magazine.

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