By Amanda Crangle
A few years ago, I purchased a 2-year-old horse named Quincy for my husband as an anniversary gift. The kids and I were giddy when we saw my husband’s truck pulling into the driveway, and we coaxed him out to the barn to reveal our big surprise.
My husband was like a kid at Christmas! It was a horse he’d had his eye on for over a year, and he would frequently crane his neck to see him when we drove by our neighbor’s pasture on our way to town.
Over the next year, however, our excitement waned significantly as we discovered that this beautiful, well-bred horse had some built-in problems that made every step with him a unique challenge.
Both of us grew up with horses and are reasonably well-versed in the basics of starting them under saddle. But everything about Quincy was very different. For the first time, we had to question everything we knew, view each interaction with him under a microscope, and humble ourselves to start from scratch to learn a new and better way.
If I were to sum Quincy up into a few words, he would be my proverbial “drop in the pond.” The journey of working with this horse has taught me many life lessons that have rippled into the recesses of nearly every corner of my life, and his impact has changed me for the better.
Looking back on our disappointment in him not meeting our expectations, I realize the wisdom in song lyrics from the Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need. I also realized that we often set expectations based on someone else’s reality instead of focusing internally on what we can influence. We keep doing the same thing and think there’s something wrong with the object we are working on when it has nothing to do with it and everything to do with us.
Here are a few principles I’ve discovered through my time training horses that may help supply a fresh perspective on marketing and business. If you ever come to Southwest Colorado, you can give Quincy a “thank you” carrot.
You may still be missing steps even when you feel you’re taking things slow.
The more I learn, discover, and experiment with horsemanship, the more I realize how little I know. All the steps I’ve skipped with horses over the years now are glaringly obvious. The same is true in business. As I look back on how I started Lamplight Digital Media, I see how the desire to “get to the fun stuff” got in the way of doing the hard things—the necessary things that I didn’t see when I was in the thick of things.
In hindsight, it would have saved me time and a few tough lessons if I had slowed down, thought through our processes, and identified the overlooked steps. As my daddy always told me, if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. This is true, yet it’s a moving target, as the definition of “doing it right” constantly adapts to new knowledge and experience. When we know better, we must do better and update our processes to reflect this new standard.
Have you ever thought about your marketing and wondered what’s working and to what extent? If so, you likely moved too quickly, failing to establish accurate systems to measure performance. Measuring marketing performance is technically challenging; however, it’s worth slowing down, doing the hard work, and setting things up correctly the first time.
Nothing in nature grows all the time.
The culture we live in is one of counterfeit success. We see beautifully filtered images on social media highlighting the high points of our friends’ lives. We see wondrous worlds fabricated by computers in virtual reality. We see ads designed to trigger chemical responses in our brains, crafted by machine learning and artificial intelligence. We go to school and believe we must constantly improve on our weaknesses instead of building on our strengths. In business, we’re taught that not outperforming last year’s metrics and beating your competition is failure.
All this can drive a person to accept that what we have right now is not good enough. We can falsely believe that the world, our country, our culture, our friends, and our family are outpacing us, and if we stop, even for a moment, things may come crashing down in a giant heap upon us.
When you work with animals, you notice they are present in each moment. While they may use past events to help them make decisions in the present, they do not dwell in the memories of their mind. They acknowledge what has happened and use that to stay focused—and alive—in the present.
Therefore, we must also be present when we engage with animals to earn their trust. We must prove to them that we are present and not focused elsewhere so they can feel safe around us.
From the outside looking in, this doesn’t always appear as progress.
On the contrary, when you are present, you realize that the goal itself, while important, is not the focus. It’s about the process, not the outcome. This may mean seasons of stagnation when we allow our body, mind, and soul to rest and digest the significance of the here and now. It may even look like regression as we identify holes in our methodology or processes and take a step back to fix them, better equipped with our newfound wisdom.
Many people in the water treatment industry enjoyed tremendous growth over the past couple of years. The pandemic acted as a catalyst, flinging us forward at an unsustainable pace and simultaneously creating excitement and fear as we’ve never felt before.
Perhaps now, as we reflect on these events, it is time to identify the holes in our methodology and processes and understand that the ebbs and flows are not “good” or “bad.” They simply are. And, at each chapter of life, we can slow down and appreciate the seasons of growth, the seasons of harvest, and the seasons of dormancy.
Set yourself, your team, and your business up for success by perfecting the basics.
Has anyone ever asked you to do something you have no idea how to do and left you little to no instruction?
While we cannot anticipate every challenge that will come our way, we can lead by example with grace and empathy, showing the correct way to complete basic processes so that when we put a more complex situation together, the solution comes easily.
Imagine a dealership that has painstakingly and intentionally made time to train their team on the why, how, what, when, and where of their foundational processes. Procedures are precise, consistent, and easily accessed. You might visit this dealership and incorrectly assume that things are simply easy for them. The notion may float through your mind that they are lucky. It’s easy to argue that perhaps they are in a great market, have above-average staff, or sell superior equipment. When, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The foundational building blocks of the organization have been meticulously crafted, tested, and optimized for maximum benefit to the team and the customer.
Consistent effort over time is a recipe for true success.
My mom once told me that love covers a multitude of sins. As a parent, this is especially true as we fumble through our parenting days wondering if what we’re doing is the best thing for our children. However, if we show up every day full of love, I believe how we do what we do matters far less than the intention of our hearts.
With horses, showing up daily to work on the basics until they are consistently perfect sets a foundation for faster and longer-lasting results down the road.
In the same way, being consistent for your team members is acutely important. Having a leader who leads from the heart with passion, focus, and intention will create their own ripple effect as they positively impact the people around them.
In marketing, it’s common to try something new, throw a few dollars at it, and a month later say it didn’t work if we don’t see results. This boom-or-bust mentality leads to sporadic growth and stressful work environments.
However, we enjoy sustainable results when we gather data, improve over time, and create a long-term strategy that aligns with your company culture, ethics, branding, and goals. We show up every day and do the right thing by our people.
We all need a drop in the pond.
In each of our lives, it usually takes a challenging circumstance to help us see where we have room to improve. Whether it’s slowing down and perfecting the basics, setting your team up for success by facilitating proper training, or showing up consistently to be the leader those around you need, we can all benefit from the lessons nature and animals teach us about life.
About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.