Why "The Saddled Stallion?"
I've been asked a few times what the deal is with the name of my blog and podcast. I mean, I respect alliteration as much as the next guy, but yes, there is a good reason for the meaning behind the name.
The best way to explain it is actually to share something I wrote right near the end of my two-year entrepreneurial stint, which is another name for "a stint in which one tries to launch multiple different entrepreneurial ventures, fails, gets exhausted, runs out of money, and must return to his more stable job to support his family."
Yeah, it sucked, but what came out of it was so much more personally beneficial than any fulfilled entrepreneurial dream could've offered; I got perspective.
As I grasped brutal reality and released my beloved efforts, the stress steadily began dripping out of me.
As I processed everything, words began dripping also ... onto pages ... into chapters.
One of these chapters was "The Saddled Stallion," which you're about to read.
I made this chapter the centerpiece because although it shines the light on my learnings from my passionate, ill-fated attempts to ""go out on my own," the lesson is really the ethos of everything on which I write and speak.
I hope that it both explains the unorthodox name and gives you a deeper understanding of why I do all of this. Enjoy.
"The Saddled Stallion"
I’m more taken aback and impressed by horses than I am by other animals.
Despite being beefy and rugged -- snarling and neighing and shaking their manes to express even the slightest bouts of frustration or joy -- they’re gorgeously graceful and swift when they get the chance to take off. Huge muscles pulsing, thick chunks of dirt being hurled in the air behind them, and powerful thrusts of their buff necks lurching them forward towards their destinations.
What an awesome creature!
What a perfect picture of strength and swiftness -- of gorgeous chaos.
In sports and even in business, terms like “stud,” “stallion,” and “workhorse” get thrown around a lot.
Due to everyone’s low level of education around this quite niche subject, “stud” has become a common classification for any hard-working, high-performing, tough human -- but “stallion” is used far less frequently.
Stallions are free -- completely unbridled. They are extremely difficult to capture and even more difficult to tame and train. Their passion -- their obsession with freedom -- prevents them from submitting or subscribing to the direction of another being.
Can you relate? I can.
Despite their unshakable independence, they often run with other horses. Perhaps they do so out of instinct. Perhaps they do so out of a craving of community and fellowship. Or perhaps they do so in search of some softer level of comfortable conformance.
Can you relate? I can.
When the sunlight’s presence stretches as long as the lush, delicious grass tickling the stallion’s sweaty mane and streams flow abundantly from the melting snow, the stallion is living his picturesque life.
He has food.
He has community.
He has freedom.
But seasons change, and the bliss of these warm, generous days now only illuminates the burden of cold ones.
Shivering while searching for food in a dark valley -- other horses preoccupied with their own survival -- this stallion questions not only whether tomorrow will come, but whether his strength, speed, and passion will come with it.
He is exhausted.
He is starving.
He is isolated.
I’ve been this stallion. In fact, a massive portion of my soul still is and always will be.
We all have a little bit of stallion living in us -- one terrified of being controlled; ridden too hard; deployed in the wrong army; and tamed.
Held captive by bosses, jobs, and teams that were packaged and sold as things far better than what they turned out to be, we feel limited by legalistic people, held down by jaded veterans and suffocated by excessive structure.
We tried clocking in and clocking out with smiles. We fought for clarity on how to advance through the ranks, often angered by what we found to be reality.
We tried to stimulate positive change by confidently suggesting creative solutions and outside perspectives into archaic models and broken systems.
When none of this worked, we channeled our passions into other things -- the arts, dating, fantasy football, tattoos, pets, CrossFit, online poker, international travel, etc.
These involvements postponed our frustrations, but the boldly authentic life we craved simply couldn’t take a backseat between 9-5 anymore. Creatively compartmentalizing our clashing personas became exhausting.
We grew tired of “faking it.”
After all, a stallion is no longer a stallion if he’s in a stall all day.
He would rather die a wild stallion than become something he’s not, right?
Before my two-year journey into the gritty wilderness of entrepreneurship, I would’ve put the pen down right here, drank the rest of my tea, and gone upstairs to coerce myself to sleep.
But I’m glad I revisited this chapter.
Nobody broke out of that barn with more passion, optimism, and fire than I did in 2017.
The wind was both thick with opportunity and fresh with freedom as it washed across my smiling face.
My hooves sprayed noticeable chunks of cliché quotes on courage and purpose in my wake.
I ran faster than I ever had before, plunging into interesting books and folding my newly-freed mind, mane, and pistoning legs into the maniacal masses of fellow entrepreneurs.
I loved it, I needed it, and I have no regrets.
But I’ve learned something about being a stallion.
I’ve learned that there are nights for safe and warm barns -- even if for one night.
I’ve learned that who we run with largely dictates our direction.
And I’ve learned that without someone guiding me -- a master -- my energies will be erratically applied, my passions will be immaturely prioritized, and my steps will be slippery.
You see, I learned that while my frustrations with the corporate world were often legitimate, many of them mapped back to mastership.
Not the masters of the environment -- the people in directorship positions above me -- but the reasoning behind my submission to the environment.
I was there for money.
I was there for the impressive resume that, if padded enough, would ensure my personal self-acceptance.
I was there for the obligatory optics; “this is why I went to such a good college -- my parents will be proud.”
The environments weren’t wrong; my reasons for submitting to them were too shallow for me to recognize their good and to overcome their bad.
What “mastered” my participation in the system clashed with the deeper yearnings of my soul and fueled my release from that barn, but ultimately failed me.
After all, I had not yet known any other master.
Entrepreneurship taught me that we’re all servants -- slaves -- to something.
Some of us are slaves to our self- image, others are slaves to earnings, and others slaves to acceptance and acclaim.
I was enslaved to all of these masters and more.
The question is not whether we’re slaves -- captured stallions forced to submit to a system we didn’t design. The question is who our master is and whether we trust them.
Do they feed us?
Do they keep us clean?
Do they lead us to calm waters for a drink on a blistering hot day?
Do they give us a warm bed and whistle a soothing song as we drift off under a hail-catching roof, only to wake us the next day for a hearty sprint through the open fields?
Do they admire our passion and help us harness and direct it?
Are they using it to achieve their grand plans, and if so, are their grand plans noble?
If I could comprehend them enough to judge their purity, would I submit to having my talents be directed towards their completion?
And if so, perhaps being a saddled stallion isn’t the worst thing after all...
Perhaps true freedom comes from sacrificing some level of control.
Perhaps true independence calls for an adoption of a code -- albeit a worthy one.
Perhaps our oft-errant passion is more powerful when channeled by a worthy master.
You must ask yourself these questions:
Who is the master of my life?
How is their headship working out for me?
Do I still trust them?
If we allow our human needs and desires to master us, we run the risk of becoming gorgeous, chaotic creatures hell-bent on freedom, enjoyment, and survival.
There’s no legacy there.
But if we identify and submit to the right master, our passions, skills, and energies can finally be channeled towards a greater purpose reaching far beyond our shallow personal desires.
We can still be stallions.
You will always be a stallion.
But one that has submitted to a worthy master,