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ICYMI: The One Thing Judges Never Miss with Stephanie Lynn

Originally published March 2016

Exhibitors ask all the time, “What is the one thing that judges are looking for in XYZ class?” The answer given most often is judges consider many aspects of the performance when determining the winner. It makes perfect sense. After all, anyone who has ever met with success understands the amount of time, work and countless hours of practice that go into making a stellar performance.

Yet, the truth is there is one thing that judges never miss.

In the 1991 movie, City Slickers, Jack Palance playing a crusty old cowboy named Curly, tells Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, that the meaning of life rests on one thing. Mitch is a 39 year-old man suffering a mid-life crisis who goes on a two-week cattle drive in search of what’s missing in his life.

When Mitch asks Curly what that one thing is, Curly tells him, “That is what you have to find out.” Finding that one thing is crucial to creating winning results, to finding success in life. That one thing launches winners to the top of a judge’s card. That one thing is called purpose.

In the best seller, Think And Grow Rich, self-development author, Napoleon Hill, said, “There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”

Winners use purpose like a compass to direct their actions. A strong purpose prioritizes every area of life – work, family, relationships even horse showing – and creates productivity. And while it is possible to have productivity without purpose and priority, the results will disappoint.

Purpose, priority and productivity are the bedfellows of success. Acting like a road map, purpose driven priorities determine the steps necessary to achieve the desired results. They keep a person grounded, doing the right things, one step at a time in practice and when making life choices like putting on the show halter and practicing showmanship after a ride, teaching a 180 before asking for a 360 or skipping the Starbucks Macchiato in lieu of water.

Extraordinary performances are the result of countless hours spent perfecting one goal at a time – in order. AQHA Professional Horseman Ken McNabb recently compared riding a horse to learning the alphabet; you cannot skip letters and read all the words. You cannot become a World Champion if you only know one lead.

Winners use purpose driven priorities to order their lives. This does not necessarily mean they live extremely rigid and disciplined lives. Instead, the priorities determine what is important. They learn to focus on doing one thing correctly before moving to the next step. Extraordinary performances require the person to focus with laser intensity. The ability to focus on that one thing motivates achievers to learn from mistakes, to make a move without fear of failure and to build success one syllable, one step, one ride at a time.

With a single purpose as a guide, successful people ensure that everything on their to-do list is congruous with their purpose. If it is not, they do not do it. Period. Everything is broken down to a level that helps them achieve their goals with their purpose at the core. It allows them to stay in the moment, in the here and now and to avoid the distractions that so often fight for our time and lure us off course.

At the horse show, every exhibitor wants to win. But winning is not the purpose – it is the result from living a purpose driven life. Living with purpose is the most proven path to presenting the one thing that judges are looking for – extraordinary results.

Just as Curly told Mitch that his one thing is something he must find for himself, recognizing purpose is a unique experience each person must undergo on his or her own. Finding what one stands for comes easily to some while others have to dig deep to find purpose.

The work that goes into making a winning run cannot be done without the individual possessing a burning desire. Winners have passion for their purpose and using their purpose to determine their actions, are driven to succeed. Staying true to a purpose opens the floodgates to the extraordinary results individuals and judges are looking for.

Those who live life with purpose develop priorities and understand results are the consequence of their actions. Learn to prioritize and make sure that all your objectives, the short-term goals, serve your long-term goals and each serves your purpose. Concentrate your efforts on one thing at a time. When everything you do revolves your purpose, you will see extraordinary results. Do right by your purpose; be the best horseman you can be, enjoy the ride and the results may surprise you.

About Stephanie Lynn: NSBA Director of Operations and Professional Horseman Stephanie
 Lynn coached her first AQHA World Champion in 1988. She has since 
coached, trained and shown World, Congress and Honor Roll horses across
 disciplines. She is a judge for AQHA, NSBA and APHA and has judged World
 Championship shows for each association. Most recently, Stephanie is
 the author of The Good Rider Series and A Lifetime Affair:
 Lessons Learned Living My Passion. The Good Rider Series is a library of
 resource material that is both practical and applicable in the barn and 
show ring for riders. Stephanie can always be reached through her