Mind Wisdom - Putting the Cart before the Horse

I recall smiling the first time that someone used this phrase to describe me:

”You’re the southern aspect of a north-bound horse”.

At that time, I wasn’t really offended because I knew it to be true based on the way I had been acting.

It began as an encounter where someone had asked me for my opinion on their issue. I was busy at the time but agreed to consider the issue from their perspective. As they spoke, my mind took off, as I ranged through a myriad of thoughts as they attempted to explain their position.

I could already see all these aspects before fifty words had emerged. My mind was already preparing evaluations and conclusions, counterpoints and realignments, while I’d yet to hear their point of concern. I’d begun formulating words-of-wisdom while they hadn’t yet issued one hundred words of explanation.

I reached the end of my patience, and began to interrupt, to share my opinions and suggestions while they weren’t even close to completing their explanation. There was a brief pause and then the pivotal phrase and the total failure of the interface. I’d blown the invitation, big-time, and it took months for me to reestablish their confidence in me. Frankly,I didn’t enjoy, nor profit from, being any part of a horse, noble creatures though they may be.

How might I have avoided this unnecessary setback? How should I have responded to their potentially rewarding invitation? On reflection, it’s obvious. I needed to slow down and really connect with them by listening actively, seeking first to understand before I attempted to be understood.

Next, I should have appreciated their position without contamination for how else could I possibly add any value? I had to attend to their perspective as they recognized it. Only then, could I focus on refining the ‘gold’ in their current perspectives. This was not only of great importance to them, but there’s the chance that I might learn something new that could benefit me.

Lastly, I might, at that point, be able to offer something, translated through my different perspective, that could be of benefit. This approach would likely have not only protected the relationship but may well have improved it. It could have been a net outcome we’d both value.

The trap I’d fallen into? Haste > Opportunity > Response Preparation > Selective Attention > Expectations, all while I was less than halfway to understanding! It was a painful and unnecessary experience, and a little prior reflection could have delivered a better contribution faster, and less painfully.

CART is now my acronym for Connect > Attend > Refine > Translate – the Wisdom pathway. I need to put the CART before the horse.

Wisdom is the Way.


  • David E.C. Huggins

    David Huggins has fully enjoyed a lifetime of experience as a military officer and as a behavioural scientist, supporting businesses and similar enterprises, at both organizational and individual levels, through leadership coaching. A contemplative Christian, he is devoted to contributing love, value, comfort, and continuity to this diverse world. He resides in Campbellville, Ontario, with his lovely and talented artist wife, Judy.

    http://thewisdomperspective.com david@andros.org Huggins David