When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose – The Horse

There are sources of inspiration and perspective all around us, if we are able to notice them and open to receive them.  Even the stories we’re reading to our kids to keep them entertained can carry messages that we also need to hear.  Charlie Mackesy’s “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” is a magical story with beautiful illustrations that captivate kids – and adults.  The talks between the boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse demonstrate a beautiful picture of friendship, and the conversations they have with each other are transparent and vulnerable. They talk about the need for connection, kindness, empathy, and support.

The mole, maybe my favorite character because he’s cake obsessed, is a little goofy; yet he is aware that he has plenty to learn and seems to have a willingness to do the hard work. The mole tells the boy that the biggest waste of time is when we compare ourselves to others. What wise words from a small animal! We all have a unique set of strengths to offer in these unprecedented times. Let’s lean into them and do the work on being the best version of ourselves as we lead through crisis.

In one of my favorite passages, the mole shares his go-to saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake.” Ah, see the mole has found that thing that works for him. I love it that it’s cake! What works for you when you need to keep going?

Like many foxes, the one in the story is typically silent, walking along listening while the mole and the horse offer their wisdom and perspective. To me that’s a bit like real life and carries an important message. Some of us are good listeners and some of us are good talkers. Sometimes just listening is what someone might need right now. Just being available and willing to listen can be a powerful form of leadership.

And finally, the horse, who offers this nugget:

“When have you been at your strongest?” asked the boy.
The horse answered, “When I have dared to show my weakness. Asking for help isn’t giving up. It’s refusing to give up.”

As leaders, we need to know that it’s okay to ask for help. Who can you lean on when you need to keep going?

The horse offers the boy some additional nuggets that feel especially relevant in these times:

“Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.”

“Everyone is a bit scared.  Be we are less scared together.”

We don’t know when this current season will end. We don’t know yet how we will change, or the fabric of our lives will be changed.  Sometimes the best we can do is to get up and carry on, and that, too, takes courage.  We can be less scared together, though.

We can all work together to create a brighter tomorrow.


Wendy Berenson

Wendy Berenson

Wendy brings over 20 years of expertise in training and development, facilitation, and Human Resources to the InnerWill team and the clients we serve. She has a passion for helping leaders develop a culture of engaging employee experiences and has a unique knack for identifying the strengths of others and helping them reach their highest potential.

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