Cowgirl Courage

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”  

John Wayne (1907-1979), American actor

My southern roots produce my visceral reaction to this quote. It is so easy for me to remember being frightened to saddle up on Old Paint, but my father made sure that I would still jump up on this gentle giant and ride anyway. After all, there was no turning back after my family drove out to the horse farm. My only other option would have been to hang out with those stinky old men with smelly stuff under their bottom lip.

Have you ever wanted to throw in the towel when faced with an organizational or personal change that is greeting you as your eyes flutter open in the morning?

One of my favorite leaders early in my career used to remind her team at the start of each large-scale organizational change project that ‘You can eat an elephant, but you can only do so one bite at a time.’ Translation: try chunking, a more flexible learning style allowing you to absorb change, to take in information and to keep your momentum going.

ACTION: Try Chunking

Break down your challenge / change / opportunity / elephant into smaller ‘chunks’ or bites. Use whatever element works best as your ‘bite,’ such as time, task or person.

  1. Time: Take an overwhelming project and break it down to the year, then the month, week, day, hour. Whatever it takes to get you through that overwhelming feeling. Try planning a day by the hour, or just decide to get yourself through to the lunch hour; then, allow yourself time to re-group and keep going
  2.  Task: Focus on one task only – completing one section of that strategic plan – then re-group after you’ve completed that section to schedule tackling the next section
  3. Person: Handle the outstanding crucial conversations and attention that one person is needing before moving onto the next person

Chunking is a great employee engagement technique as well. Model this behavior for your team while encouraging them to do the same. All of the great energy will propel you forward as a high performing team.

As hard as it may seem at the moment, remember that moments pass. Sometimes you just have to keep on keeping on. Even though you may not know exactly where the answer(s) will come from, know they will come.

Keep going. Go ride ‘em, cowboys and cowgirls!

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Sandra Schwan



  1. Cowgirl Courage | flux2lucid - [...] Cowgirl Courage. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Posted on August 30, 2013 by Kristin von [...]

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