By Pam Jones

My favorite part of the Clearwater County Fair and Lumberjack Days is the Horse Pull contests. If you have never watched a horse pulling contest it works like this: The horses start out pulling a small amount of weight-usually 500 lbs and they pull the weight for a certain distance. Each pull has an additional 500 lbs. The teams are eliminated when they can no longer pull the weight.

The teams don't have too much trouble pulling the beginning weight of 500 lbs. As the weight is added, each pull becomes more and more difficult until they could no longer pull the weight and are eliminated.

Each year I see something new that strikes out at me. The first year I watched the horse pulls, one of the teams was brand new to these competitions. Neither of the horses had pulled together and one of the horses had never pulled at all. When they were hitched to the sled with the weight on it, they acted like they didn't know what to do. They just pranced a bit and looked around as if to say "What is going on here?". The horse that had pulled before would start to pull the weight and the other horse would finally get the hang of what was going on and they could pull the weight effortlessly. With each pull the two horses would work against each other for a few seconds, then they would work together and the load would move more freely. As it turned out, this team of horses won the competition against the more experienced teams.

One year, at the end of the competition the final weight on the sled was about 6,000 lbs. It was very difficult for one team of horses to pull the weight alone. A second team was hitched to the load and was able to pull for a short distance. The third team was hitched and the load was pulled freely through the arena as if it was a load of feathers. It was beautiful watching these horses work together and reminded me of the movies we see of the stage coaches.

This year, the lightweight competitors out-pulled the heavy-weights. 

As I watch these competitions I am reminded of a few lessons about life and business in general.

Lesson One: In life we need to work together to accomplish a common goal

Many times people will work against each other rather than with each other to accomplish a common goal. I don't know how many times I have seen people involved in organizations who feel that their ideas are better than someone else's and won't bend for the benefit of the group. When everyone  involved can see the big picture and work for the common goal without worrying about petty issues, the goal can be accomplished so much easier and faster.

We see this many times in families, business, organizations and governments.

When dealing with other people, whether it is family, church, business, or an organization, we need to focus on the goal and work together as a group. We are all individuals and each of us has talents and abilities. When those talents are used together many impossible feats can be accomplished. It is possible to form one mind for a common goal.

Lesson Two: We need other people

Many times in life, whether a personal situation or a business accomplishment, we need the help of other people. Some of us are too stubborn or bull headed to ask for assistance and flounder along trying to do everything ourselves. I find myself in this category sometimes.

At times the load we have to carry is just too much for us to bear alone. We need to reach out and ask for help.

By the same token, when we see someone struggling we need to reach out and offer assistance and help lighten that load.

Lesson Three: Competitors don't have to be enemies

There are times in life and in business when we need to be competitive. Then, there are other times when we need to put down the shields and work together rather than against each other. Some of my best friends are competitors.

How can we work together without hurting our own businesses? Whether we have an online business or an offline business, we cannot meet all of the needs of every person who comes through our door. There may be times when a customer needs or wants something you may not offer, or may not want to do.

When I had my sewing business, there were times people would want me to machine embroider something for them, or quilt something. Those are things I didn't have the equipment to do, nor the desire to do. My expertise was in custom clothing and mending and alterations (I don't know what it is with men wanting their work jeans patched all the time-just throw the darned things away and get a new pair <g>). Luckily, I was familiar with other people who did enjoy quilting and machine embroidery and I could refer these customers to them for those items. Did I lose customers by referring them to someone else? No, because they always came back to me for what I was good at and I had formed a relationship with them.

Online, I work with business owners by helping them develop their online presence. There are times I am asked to do something that includes a component which is beyond my scope of expertise. I have formed relationships with others who are more skilled than me so I can either refer people to them or outsource that component of the project. By the same token, there are times when my competitors will refer people to me.

It would be impossible for me to try to fill all of the needs of every single person who came to my web site or subscriber that asked me a question or needed help with their online goals and objectives. We each have specific talents and we need to be able to combine our talents in order to help the most people.

Lesson Four: Experience and size aren't always a factor for success

Just as the horse team that had the least experience won the competition, so it is in life. Someone can have much more experience than you, but that doesn't mean you can't surpass them. Knowledge is a valuable asset, but some of the more valuable assets are dreams, desire, and stick-to-it-iveness. If your desire to reach your own personal goals is strong enough you can climb the highest mountains.

I don't ever plan on having to pull 6,000 lbs. by myself. However, sometimes the burdens can become mighty heavy. We, as individuals and as business people need to form strong relationships with each other and work together for the common good. This is the only way society can survive. Well, at least that's my two cents.


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