Are you (and are the members of your team) more like HORSEs or BURROs ?


I don’t know how often you question your own character qualities (or those of others)  by looking at animals, but I think you will appreciate these profound insights from “Living the Life You were Meant to Live”- by Tom Paterson (pg. 202):

“A horse accepts every assignment, takes on all work says no to nothing, and is very likely to burn out, become ill, or even lose his life in the process. A horse will die under the saddle or break his life in the process. A horse will die under the saddle or break his wind, which is the equivalent of burnout. Some CEO’s who are not sensitive to this tendency, have allowed some of their key people to assume more and more duties to the point of overload.

Burros are smarter than horses. They refuse to get into overload. Put too much on the back of a burro and it will sit down. It won’t move! A burro knows when enough is enough.

Burros, of course can be frustrating to CEO’s. They say no to excessive overtime and extra responsibilities. In the end, however, they are the more stable faction of the workforce.

Horses tend to be the 5% of the workforce that creates 50% of the profits. In the end, however, they have much shorter life spans within a company. With their greater turnover as a group come greater training and personnel development costs, recruiting fees, and severance pay costs.   If you are a CEO or the leader of a group, weigh the consequences. Don’t let horses take on too much. Keep your burros motivated to work at maximum level.

On the personal side, recognize which you are.   If you are a horse, you will need to pace yourself and give yourself permission to say no to some projects, some promotions, and some commitments. If you are a burro, recognize   that you are likely to need to prod yourself to test your limits and then to maintain a maximum workload without overload. Horses must learn to restrain themselves and take a vacation. Burros must learn to motivate themselves.”


Let me encourage you to:

  1. take a few minutes of reflection to consider which animal, the horse  or the burro you tend to be more like horse or burro
  2. ask yourself, after you have read  through this post and given it thought, are there any changes you need to make in your life

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