The Longest Tail Longest Tail

According to Steve Coburn, “It’s not fair to the horses that have been in the race since Day 1.”

Coburn is the co-owner of California Chrome, once thought to be the heir to the Triple Crown, who lost at Belmont.

“Look at it this way, if you can’t make enough points to get in the Kentucky Derby, you can’t run in the other two races. It’s all or nothing, because it’s not fair to these horses who have been running their guts out since Day 1,” Coburn spewed before his wife dragged him off camera.

It’s not fair.

Life’s not fair.

And leaders – real leaders – know that.

When I was growing up, I used to compete in the Central-Belden PTA Pet Show. Well, not me, exactly. I would enter my cat, Josephine.

Every year, I’d come home with a ribbon. Everyone did.

One year, I won for the cat with the “Longest Tail.” Looking back, I don’t think Josephine really had the longest tail. But I won nonetheless: A Blue Ribbon.

But that’s not the way life is.

Despite our societal efforts to level the playing field… to lower barriers… to provide opportunity for all (whether you think this politically expedient or not), the truth is that life is intrinsically unpredictable. And not everybody wins.

Those who are fleet of foot understand the rules. They learn how to maximize their impact in the face of the rules.

They make new rules; new games, new products, new services.

But they don’t get stuck; they don’t languish in the hand-wringing of whether the rules are fair or unfair.

They know that the landscape is always evolving.

They understand that culture changes, technology changes, industry changes.

That the only constant is change.

They relish the change; they anticipate the change; they welcome the change.

And real leaders ride that change like a surfer rides a wave.

Those who get stuck in the land of “unfair” end up bitter and angry like Coburn; or standing in the ashes of a business like Kodak.

Those who thirst for excellence laugh in the face of “unfair.” And know that the Triple Crown can be theirs.

-guest post by Walt Hampton


Walt Hampton, J.D. is Executive Director of Summit Success, LLC, a global personal and professional development firm. He is the best-selling author of Journeys on the Edge: Living a Life That Matters and The Power Principles of Time Mastery: Do Less. Make More. Have Fun. He is also an attorney.

Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek are leadership practitioners, teachers, trainers, and award-winning authors. They are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards, and called “the best book on leadership since Good to Great.” Take their Leadership Derailers Assessment or sign up for their newsletter. If you found value in this, please forward it to a friend. Every little bit helps! Longest Tail

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