Late Spring in the Rockies IAC Coaching Masteries Revealed

Martha Pasternack

When the time is right, the cattle are moved from winter pastures to the high
country for a summer of open range grazing on fresh, green grass. The entire
ranching family is involved in the cattle drive along our rural highways to
higher ground.

Cowboy Grandpa and Grand Dame Grandma look like they were born in their saddles.
Cowboy Junior and family are the most numerous and know the ropes after years
of mentoring with Grandpa and Grandma. Even the grandkids, wearing oversized
hats that make their ears stick out at 90-degree angles and riding horses much
bigger than their short little legs can straddle, have their important jobs
to do. I have rarely seen such focused attention in a child. These little kids
have very serious looks on their faces as they bob up and down on their saddles
like bouncy-balls with their legs at 45 degrees from the horse’s muscular
flank. So far I have never seen one bounce off the back of their horse, which
is a miracle, given the power of gravity.

These mutigenerational cowboys and cowgirls are professional and keep it all
going in the desired direction with thoughts, breaths, yips, whistles and hey-yahs!
that all apparently mean something to the dogs, horses and each other. I can
tell by the responsiveness of all involved.

They are focused, confident and secure in their work and the value it brings
to the larger community. They set their schedule based on efficiency, support,
weather and intuition. They work as a team and laugh at each other’s jokes.
And are they organized? You betcha!

Their horses are professional; I can tell that too by the way they move without
any apparent commands. Even the dogs are professionals. They know exactly what
to do as they scurry in circles, spirals and figure eights, nipping at hooves
and dodging head butts from the irritated herd.

The cattle go where they are told to go but by the sound of their bellowing
are none too happy about the disruption and uncertainty of the journey. I guess
they must trust these guys beyond reason.

For me, and other drivers of motorized vehicles, the cattle drive is a lesson
in patience as we inch our way slowly through the herd. We wait until we are
waved ahead by one of the cowgirls.

When an itty-bitty calf decides to take a nap in the middle of the road her
Momma will stop and stare fiercely through the windshield daring the driver
to disturb her baby. Out of nowhere, a gentle cowboy will saunter over, pick
up the calf, drape it over his saddle, tip his hat and move out of the way.
The mother cow protectively follows her baby.

So, we wait again. We wait for them to be on the same side of the road. Heaven
forbid you are in the car that separates a cow from her calf. She does not like
that and may actually try to bump you AND your car out of her way. These creatures
are huge and when staring through a windshield appear gigantic. They resist
being rushed.

I personally love to wait because it gives me time to stare at this decades
old ritual of western life in living color and soak it in. Now, you may think
I am going to talk more about patience. Well, I am not. What I really want to
address is professionalism.

The definition of a professional, according to my computer’s dictionary,
follows (edited a lot by me).

  • A person, horse or dog engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid
    occupation rather than as a pastime: a professional rancher and team
  • A person, horse or dog having or showing the skill appropriate to a professional;
    competent or skillful: their ranching skill is both memorable and professional.
  • A person, horse or dog competent or skilled in a particular activity: she
    was a real professional cowgirl.

Here is some of what I observe as professional when I am patiently waiting
during a cattle drive and how what I see relates to the IAC coaching masteries:

  • Whispering, Kindness, Gentleness (Mastery #1)
    • Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust

  • Building Upon Experience (Mastery #2)
    • Perceiving, affirming and expanding potential

  • Flexibility (Mastery #3)
    • Engaged listening

  • Focus In The Present Moment (Mastery #4)
    • Processing in the present

  • Clear Requests (Mastery #5)
    • Expressing

  • Focus On The Goal (Mastery #6)
    • Clarifying

  • Commitment (Mastery # 7)
    • Set and keep clear intentions

  • Willingness To Circle Back Around To Try Again (Mastery #8)
    • Invite possibility

  • Organization (Mastery # 9)
    • Create and use supportive systems and structures

  • Humor (Masteries #1-9)

I am not suggesting that coaching is akin to a cattle drive. Well, maybe I
am. As professional coaches, certain things promote our expertise; things like
commitment, flexibility, and focus. Refer to the above list, which is an example
of how the IAC Masteries are reflected back from life all around us. (In this
case, from a cattle drive in the rural Southwest.)

Take a look around your life this spring. What IAC Masteries are being reflected
back to you? Please share!

Martha Pasternack 

Martha Pasternack MMC
My passion for witnessing the beauty and mystery of life, healthy
healing and the promotion of Peace on Earth are integral to my daily
life. I have been life coaching since 2004 after working 30 years
as a health care professional.

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