I have a friend who – for her entire life – has wanted to own and operate a riding arena for horses. She’s now in her forties, and actually is incredibly close to realizing her dream. But she doesn’t seem to realize how close she is to realizing it. She has a big piece of property, several horses, and is in good enough shape financially that she could probably assemble the capital to give it a go. So how long will it be before she opens this riding arena? That’s hard to say. You see, although she talks about horses a lot, and spends a lot of time taking her horses to a top-notch trainer and learning riding techniques herself, she spends the majority of her time on her day job as a successful account executive with a globally respected fashion firm. And although she’s taking some of the steps toward her dream – like acquiring the knowledge and physical resources necessary – she’s not taking the crucial step, which is actually jumping in the saddle. In her case, “jumping in the saddle” would mean that she’d have to take a look at all that she’s acquired in terms of assets and liabilities, and wherever possible get rid of liabilities, and increase her assets.
This is a basic lesson that a lot of really intelligent people overlook, unless they grew up in a business-minded family. I personally had it brought to my attention years ago by the book Rich Dad Poor Dad. Not a masterpiece of business education by any means, but an insightful book I’ve recommended dozens of times to friends and clients. The friend I’m talking about here owns a nice horse trailer, some property with barns on it, and several horses, but for now, all of those things are huge liabilities. Taxes, a mortgage payment, insurance, maintaining the property, and feeding and training the horses are all in the expense column.
So my friend’s dream for now is just that – a dream. And a pricey one. What she needs to do is turn the dream into a vision, and then a plan, and in no time she’d be in the saddle. In her case this would be as simple as renting out unused buildings, connecting with a trainer who needs a facility, or defining the business plan and committing some capital to bump all the resources into the level of a functioning revenue-generator. I personally think she’ll pull it off. She’s a driven person. But for a while she’s made the mistake a lot of people make, which is talking about how nice the horses are instead of getting on and riding them.
I see this problem all around me, every day. I even fall into the trap myself on occasion.
Since political battles are so pervasive in the media these days, I’m going to use them as a handy analogy here. This is intended as observational; I don’t consider myself a Republican or a Democrat. But I pay a lot of attention to politics, because political agendas shape the very fabric of our lives, and political strategists are amongst the savviest marketers out there.
Now that I’ve over-prefaced what I’m about to say, here it is: Democrats in America have been failing to get their goals achieved for quite some time because they like talking about the fine points of the horses instead of getting on them and riding. I have a lot of really intelligent friends who are Democrats, but they seem to confuse their insightful commentary about politics, social evolution, and history with actually DOING something. Like the kind of person who gives you elaborate explanations of where they don’t shop, or what kind of fish they don’t eat, and do so over their cell phone while they drive their Volvo to the corner store. Smart Republicans have always sort of known this, and often frame the dialog with over-the-top agendas, so that while the Democrats spend all their time talking about how over-the-top the agenda is, the agenda actually gets pushed through. We talked about this recently when we discussed the Overton Window.
So how do you go about getting in the saddle instead of talking about the horse? I’m not even going to dignify that with a response. Beyond “just shut up and get on the horse, dangit.” As Will Rogers said: “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”