Leadership Lessons from The One Arm Bandit

One Armed Bandit

Do you have the courage and tenacity to completely redesign your life in the middle of it and create a whole new level of success for yourself?

Our family enjoyed a good old fashioned Wild West show at the Ellensburg, WA rodeo over Labor Day weekend, complete with buffalo, cowboys, cracking whips, and amazing riding stunts. All of this just from the mid-performance entertainment – an act known as, “The One Arm Bandit.” We have seen this act many times and it never ceases to be exciting and inspiring.

What moves The One Arm Bandit from the category of just another act to extraordinary and inspiring for the rest of us is to realize that John Payne, a cowboy, was electrocuted in June 1973 and fell 25 feet in the process. His work partner revived him with CPR but the experience left him with severe injuries and without his right arm.  Would you have pretty much given up on your life at that point? I have a strong feeling I would have…

Rather than give up, John completely reinvented himself and has been performing his rodeo show now for 23 years. He has won the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) “Specialty Act of The Year” award eleven times. His Facebook page has lots of pictures and you can watch his inspiring act on YouTube as well. But that’s not the point, is it?

In his powerful 2 CD set, “Midlife and the Great Unknown,” David Whyte, author, poet and speaker, addresses the real issues and challenges to be faced in creating the amazing re-invention of himself that John Payne has accomplished.  Some might say, “he HAD to do it, there was no choice.”  Perhaps he did and perhaps he could have become a dependent and dwelled in being a helpless victim.

The lesson and challenge here is – will you even allow yourself to cause a dramatic shift in your own life without a catalyst like a horrific incident? The statistical evidence is that you will not. Fast Company some years ago featured an article that said even when told they would die of a heart attack if they didn’t change their habits, nine out of ten did not.

Maybe you can’t think of any reason why you would even want to take on a dramatic change.  Maybe you think it would mean your life isn’t working now if you took one on.  What if it doesn’t? What if it’s all about joy, excitement, possibility and loving your life?  What if it’s about keeping your business relevant in this dynamic, borderless world in which we find ourselves?

I invite you to use this moment to consider a much bigger game, notice all the thoughts that immediately rush into your head to push that consideration out, and keep exploring possibility for yourself.  If this seems tough, but somehow compelling, trying getting David Whyte’s CD. This is your one life. Why not lead it to its fullest potential?

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Dwight Frindt About the Author: Dwight Frindt

“What does it require from a leader to create team member focus, collaboration, and effective action particularly in times of externalities that create tremendous stress?” Such questions have driven Dwi…

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