I was waiting to see a friend the other day at her yard (she’s a keen eventer and has about 12 horses she competes regularly). Her farrier was at the yard and since it was a cold day I decided to keep warm at the back of his van where his burner was. He had a price list pinned up on the inside of his van and I was interested to see that his prices were much higher than what my farrier charges me. ‘Aren’t I doing well’ I thought to myself!
And then we got chatting. He’d obviously noticed me looking at his prices and he obviously knew he was more expensive than many other farriers around.
He asked me who my farrier was and when I told him, he told me what a lovely guy he is, and how dependable he is to his customers (quite true), but how frustrated he was with him as well. He went on to explain that in the old days, men like him trained to be a farrier, got their apprentices over with and then thought they’d just be shoeing horses for the rest of their lives. But he said, it really isn’t like that anymore. There is so much to learn. So much that’s changing in the world of horses. New developments (like new surfaces that many horses are ridden on for example) and new discoveries in the veterinary world that affect horses’ legs, ways of going and of course their feet.
So much so that he said he spent a significant part of his time continually learning, studying and researching his field, continually ensuring he was up to date with the latest developments, and on top of his game so to speak. As a result, vets now came to him for advice and often referred him difficult cases. People sought him out because of his reputation of making a significant difference to their horses’ ways of going.
Not surprisingly he could charge higher prices than my farrier because he was more of an expert. He isn’t just shoeing people’s horses. He’s doing it in the best way, the most up to date way, with a huge wealth of up to date knowledge behind him. Interestingly he’s also the one arranging CPD (continuous professional development) courses for his fellow farriers and is getting a pretty amazing reputation for doing so. He was frustrated with my farrier because despite repeated invitations to come to events he puts on, he can never get my farrier to attend.
Meeting him really made me think. We all need to continually develop and keep ourselves learning and moving forward. I do in my business, and you certainly do in your personal lives. There are always new skills we can learn, things we can do better, things we can learn from others; and if we think we don’t need to learn anything new, there’s only one way we’re going and if that isn’t standing still, it’s going backwards. My farrier may be OK at his job – but he’s certainly not going to be the best at his job – and if I want the best for my horses, he’s not going to be best man for the job. Now I’m not going to move farrier as I’m not in the competition space but I certainly will encourage him to do some study and research in his field, even to join some of the CPD courses the other chap is running.
And amazingly this whole conversation is completely backed up the Prayer for the Day piece I heard on Radio 4 on 5th October – which impressed me. It’s all about getting a mentor to help you move forward in life, realizing that trying to make progress on your own (whether that’s in your career, learning the guitar or in your personal life) is far far less effective than getting help from others who can guide you either with their experience, knowledge or simple support.
I guess that’s one of reasons I’m so proud and impressed with the people who’ve decided to invest in themselves with the additional things we offer to people here at friends1st. Whether it’s the ‘Finding Someone Special’ toolkit, the Open to God prayer resource, our additional coaching or the Dating Academy. All of these are really sensible things to invest in to move your life forward. Yes you can turn round like my farrier does and say you don’t need them; or you can be cynical and think we’re just trying to make money. Or you can seriously reflect that investing in your own development is a good and proper thing to do – and something that will greatly enhance your life.
No-one is going to force you to develop yourself, it’s your life after all, but it’s likely the day will come when like my farrier, you might wonder why everyone else is doing so much better.
Now I’m off to research ways I can invest in my own future and what skills and knowledge I can brush up on……..