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Don’t Name the Puppy – Name the Horse

Don't Name the Puppy - Name the Horse Instead!

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When I begun my career as a self-employed marketing consultant, I got the same piece of advice from many of my colleagues and friends: “Never name the puppy.” That is: it’s not wise to get attached to a particular client or position – because, as it goes with consultants, there’s no guarantee that it will be there tomorrow.

This lesson finally took root for me after working with a particular client. This was an on-and-off job that I had obtained through my professional network, and after a couple of steady months I felt like I was making headway. At their invitation, I submitted a marketing strategy that included some of my best ideas to deliver ROI. I was confident that this was the breakthrough I needed to get to the next step in my personal business development.

Two weeks later, they killed my idea, and dismissed me. I was heartbroken – partially because I invested so much time in developing the plan. And partially because, before I even had it, I named the puppy.

Lucky for me, there was a silver lining in this situation. Literally hours after that project was killed, I got another phone call from another company I pitched the month before. They liked my work and enthusiasm, and wanted me to start working with them in the next week. If my pitch at the first company had been accepted, I would never have been able to accept this new, high visibility opportunity.

The lesson I learned went beyond “Don’t name the puppy.” Instead: I learned to name the horse. Puppies will come and go – that’s the nature of business. But my dedication to my vocation would remain, and will carry me to the next destination. That’s the horse: my determination to being the best writer, manager, and strategist I can be. That horse has taken me this far, and I can’t wait to see where the horse will take me next.

How did you find your horse? How far have you gotten by focusing on your craft instead of your jobs? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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