“The wise in heart are called discerning . . .” – Proverbs 16:21
Recently I had the opportunity at the invitation of two friends and professional colleagues to participate in a coaching exercise that involved horses. Now I like horses a lot, but I don’t have a great deal of experience with them which probably made me a good candidate to experiment with in this exercise. The idea was for me to simply spend time interacting with a horse seeing if he felt comfortable in my presence and trusted me, and if so whether he would eventually respond to my instructions.
Prior to beginning the exercise my two colleague friends took me aside and put me through a series of mental exercises the purpose of which was to transfer my thought process from the brain to the heart – to move from thinking to feeling; for as they taught me horses are sensors (or feelers) more than thinkers. Incredibly, and to prove the point, when I began working with my horse he responded positively when I remained in sensing mode, but if I slipped back into thinking – that is from my heart back to my brain, which I did from time to time – he would back away. He knew; he could sense it.
In my wife’s hometown of Albany, Texas there once lived a man by the name of Robert Nail (1908-1968), a remarkable gentleman who left a unique and lasting legacy of spirit and purpose in that community like few other towns have ever received. I have heard many stories about Mr. Nail through the years, but while visiting there this past weekend I heard one remark that may have captured the essence of his impactful leadership more than anything I’ve ever heard. “Bobby Nail didn’t just know people,” one lady explained, “he knew their hearts”.
“The wise in heart are called discerning,” the Proverb says. Robert Nail of Albany, Texas was wise in heart, therefore keenly discerning about others. People followed his leadership so profoundly that today his vision lives on. Now I understand how that happened, thanks to a lesson I learned from a horse – along with a little coaching and encouragement from my two friends.