Friday, August 5, 2011

Horses of Different Colors

By Julie Rahm

There are about 56 thousand Apache Indians in the United States. Apaches are a proud and noble people. Their culture is rich in tradition. For hundreds of years, they dominated the southwest. Now, Apaches live mainly in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Most Apaches don’t like to be called Apaches. Why? Because our western culture mistakenly labels all of the Apachean people as Apaches. Really, there are about 28 distinct tribes of Apachean peoples. And, the modern generic term Apache generally refers to the largest six or seven tribes. For example, it is impolite to refer to Mescaleros as Apaches. Mescaleros will correct you if you refer to them as generic Apaches. More familiar are the Navajos who are Apachean, but definitely not Apaches.

My husband, John, says Apaches, when required, rode their horses until the horses dropped dead from exhaustion. Then, these same Apaches ate their dead horses! This is probably not true. But, John uses the story to describe an employee consuming management style. John says “Apache Managers” ride their employees until they die, then eat them, then complain about how bad they tasted. That’s John’s definition of Apache management! If you’re working for an Apache manager, you can surely relate to the description.

I also see John’s definition of Apache management in relationships. I have a client whose ex-wife was an Apache spouse. When the two were married, she rode my client until he had nothing left to give. He was her man servant and became exhausted. The relationship ended and she “ate him” by taking most of the possessions and leaving him with severe alimony. When I see her, she complains about him, the relationship and the divorce settlement; in effect “how bad he tasted”. There are plenty of other examples where the husband is the Apache. Apache husbands stand by, idle, while the wife becomes exhausted by the kids, household responsibilities and her full-time job.

In addition, horses come in different flavors. John lovingly refers to me a thoroughbred. He says I’m good at the mile but not good at plowing fields. I’m high spirited and require great care. Don’t try to plow a field with your prize thoroughbred. And, don’t take your prize farm horse to the race track. Know who you have in the stable. Enjoy each other strengths. And, help each other with the weaknesses.

So, my mindset message this week is simple. Examine your relationships at home and at work. Is the horse you’re riding slowing down? Don’t be an Apache who rides their mate or employees into exhaustion. The horse you’re riding needs rest, care and feeding.

Lastly, I apologize to the Apacheans. I think John is wrong. I’ll bet they never ate their horses.

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