Bill the Bull stares at me with brown glassy eyes. He sits forlornly in the middle of a large, padded basement pen in a dark midtown NYC restaurant. The damp hint of stale beer gently lingers in the air. His sad face beckons “Play with me! Play with me!” The nearly-empty room ignores him. (It is 2pm on President’s Day, after all). He has fabric horns where bone? keratin? used to be. No saddle. Reins made of reinforced duct tape … which also holds together his brown cloth coat.
Bill is Johnny Utah’s mechanical bull. (The only mechanical bull in Manhattan!). And this cowgirl’s goin’ riding. Oy.
I climb on Bill’s back. He bucks up and down. I have one goal in mind: Don’t. Fall. Off. I grab the rolled duct tape reins tighter and tighter, scraping my knuckles. My wrists ache. My inner thighs purple. I. Fall. Off. (What I lack in style, I make up for in sound effects—see video, below).
My time with Bill taught me a few things:
- Set goals that stretch you, but are achievable. Don’t. Fall. Off. Really? Don’t fall off a mechanical bull? Professional bull riders fall off. Why set a goal that (1) probably can’t be achieved and (2) certainly not by someone has never done it before. Why set yourself up for failure? Set yourself up for success.
- Advance prep helps. Nance Googled “how to ride a mechanical bull” before she showed up. (You’re supposed to ride one-handed. Good for balance). Nance had more stability and fewer injuries as a result.
- Perfection ruins the fun. I thought about how my actual bull ride was not what I imagined. While I was riding. Nuts! I would have had more fun—and less fear—if I had gotten out of my head and been there to enjoy the ride. How many mental rehearsals of a meeting, a situation, a conversation do you go through … instead of being fully present?
- It’s not always logical. Lean back when the bull moves forward. Lean forward when the bull tips back. Hold with your legs, not with your hands. Counterintuitive. So is business sometimes. Be prepared to do the unexpected.
- Sometimes, you just gotta hold on and ride it out. If you watch the video, you’ll see: I’m embarrassingly lopsided. My butt sticks out into the camera. I scramble to hold on. Readjust myself as Bill spins in circles. But holding on got me an extra 20 seconds on the ride. It doubled my time. Where do you let go too early? Are there more adventures ahead for you in your business?
Finally, sometimes, you’re gonna get thrown. Who’s there to pick you up, dust you off, and buy you a round of margaritas? Laugh over the videos? That’s the support team you want by your side.
And that’s no bull.
Who’s part of your support team? Let us know, by posting below.