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Not My First Rodeo

July 11, 2014


Like some Kenny Rogers song, on a warm summer night in a small town, my family and I took our places in a grandstand full of moms and dads, kids and grandparents, many of them wearing cowboy hats and boots.

We were at the Lehi Roundup in Lehi, UT. And it wasn’t my first rodeo.

My current job is as a project manager with a large telecommunication company. I am responsible for a single large account. I was hired because I have Project Management experience, a lot of it.

We watched cowboy after cowboy wrestle steers, hog tie calf, and ride bucking horses.


Lehi is part of the rodeo circuit. The cowboys (and cowgirls in the barrel races) train for years to compete. It takes an amazing amount of concentration to stay on the back of 1800 lbs of twisting, jumping, jarring horseflesh.

Yesterday, one of my projects got derailed. Despite my best planning. Despite seeing the risk and trying to plan several contingencies. I failed. It does no good for me to point out that I was acting on what I thought was good information. I had completed tests with my customer that they said were successful. When we attempted production, it turned out our tests were flawed.

The last event of the evening is the bull riding competition. During the bull riding we watched cowboy after cowboy try and fail to last the required 8 seconds. One by one they ended up in the dirt of the arena floor. Those cowboys had each trained well. They were experienced. They came well prepared. And they failed to even get a score.

Today I will try my test again. There is a chance that if my test doesn’t pass today my entire project launch might be at risk. Everyone is watching me and this test. Yesterday we fell down, today we are getting back on the bull.

As the competition continued, finally one cowboy lasted the full eight seconds. Under most circumstances, his score would have been middle of the pack. Today, he was the only one to finish and he won the bull riding competition solely because he was the only one to finish.

If today’s test is successful, it won’t matter that yesterday we failed. And disappointing as it will be, if we fail today we will attempt it again tomorrow.

As I said, this is not my first rodeo.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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