Beyond the Build


From the Horse’s Mouth (or Head)

Several years ago, I spent 10 days on Ireland’s famed Connemara Trail, traveling from Galway to Cliftonover on horseback. We traveled pastures, road beds and a few swamps and galloped on abandoned, grass-laden railroad beds. Along the trail, I learned a valuable lesson which I thought I knew, but it was evident I did not: “Give the horse its head.” 

In other words, do not hold so tightly on the reins that the horse cannot use its head to help the rider safely reach the destination. After all, between the two of you, the horse is the one with its feet on the ground, feeling the terrain as you go.

I think sometimes in contracts and in other ways we may conduct our businesses it can be easy to hold the reins too tight. We try to anticipate every single “what if” that might occur and try to put a solution into words. I told someone this week that we always try to hire the very best managers, whether in the office or in the field, and once they’ve earned our trust, then we should give them free reins as long as they continue on the right path. When this works, it’s beautiful.

There may be some lessons for all of us here. Surround yourself with quality people let them do what they do best, and you will be infinitely more successful.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.