Cart Before The Horse


What an odd picture that really illustrates the saying “Putting the cart before the horse.” However this is a perfect picture of our mindset that exists from time to time. In today’s society we tend to want to be at the top of the ladder without climbing any rungs. We want to skip the maturity process of growing into a position and just own the title.  A player may want to be recruited before he is a starter, an employee to be the store manager before a clerk, a coach earning the title of head coach before a coordinator, or we may want to live like our parents not realizing it took them 30 years to gain their level of income.   At the end of the day, this mindset is centered around  placing a personal agenda ahead of a tough process, the team, or those you serve.

So why do we use the word “cart” in this analogy?  I believe it has a deep meaning.. A cart is used to carry passengers to a destination. These passengers will not arrive while being placed in front of the horses. Another word for a cart is also carriage or a “coach”… As in riding on a stagecoach or a coach bus… When I entered this profession I was given this term in front of my birth name… Coach Adam Winegarden… This term is a honor to keep and in no way a right that I own. To connect some dots, let’s check out the origin and break down this historic quote…

Borrowed from Middle French coche, from German Kutsche, from Hungarian kocsi. According to historians, the coach was named after the small Hungarian town of Kocs, which made a livelihood from cart building and transport between Vienna and Budapest. 

The meaning “instructor/trainer” is from Oxford University slang (c. 1830) for a “tutor” who “carries” one through an exam; the athletic sense is from 1861. (

This isn’t working at all…

I love the definition in how “an instructor carries one through an exam”, or in the athletic sense that a coach should carry one through a game. We are each carrying others whether it be a game, project, daily challenge, business deal,  or life itself…. Being a coach was never really meant for one’s personal climb but a climb together. The process to get others where they need to be is a journey and a process that needs to be trusted. When we skip its purpose to reach a goal we may experience short term fulfillment but are missing the maturation process for long term success. You will find yourself saying a lot, “This isn’t working at all….”  It is like being helicoptered to the top of a mountain with out climbing with proper equipment. On the way up you would have learned how to operate, survive, and conquer challenges. Now you are there lacking all the skills and equipment to survive in the thin air. Point being is that it is great to be driven but trust the process of growth. Once you get to the top, you will be thankful and the view will be enjoyable.

I should warn others…

When we put the cart first, we fail the greater purpose. I speak from experience on this topic and needed more growth early in my career. I learned the hard way and today I am better prepared because of those experiences. However while I was growing in a position of responsibility, did the people I served get the experience they needed? The example and lessons that would help them be better for their future? When we gain a position unprepared, it is not about our story or accomplishment but the impact on those we serve. While we are trying to figure it out, others could be paying a price. Do not get me wrong, I feel that it is vital to be driven and goal oriented, but I have also never seen a book written on Self-Serving Leadership. It is critical we have great mentors that guide us with wisdom, life, knowledge, and accountability. These people will keep you on track, trusting the process, and will help you arrive prepared for impactful purpose. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “There is but one way to train up a child in the way he should go, and that is to travel it yourself.”

Not to put the cart before the horse…

Our job as coaches and leaders is to serve and develop those in our influence. Again, to carry them to a desired destination. This could mean helping them reach goals, find team value, gain self-confidence, or gain skills that will equip them for future success. No matter how long the “cart ride”, the passengers will eventually get off and seek new adventure. The reality is that as they grow you will also grow as a professional and will be better prepared for the next step. A focus on developing needs of others puts one on the direct track of a developing servant leader. It is important to plan with an intentional mindset that is used daily to improve your people holistically. In “+10Culture- Total Program Development” we discuss the importance of having a process and PRICE to help create a consistent mindset:


  • Personally Connect-Relationships/ Talk About Them
  • Review or Reteach Previous Day Material/ Key Components For Success
  • Install New Material in Multiple Ways: Teach, Show, Demonstrate, Activate, Apply
  • Create Unity: Discuss As A Group/ Work As A Group/ Help As A Group
  • Extra Work- Make Them Think About TEAM Before They Return

In close, everyone in a relationship business is a coach. We have people in our lives that we are responsible for and have influence over. If we want to just be a passenger in life then we are missing the point completely. We are meant to help carry others to their destination and not serve our own agenda solely.  Personal success will not only correlate to the success of who we lead but will better prepare all for the future. So many young professionals are looking at the next job, the next step, and may miss what is right in front of them. I will admit of being guilty of this mindset at times in my career. It also takes a little maturity, guidance, and wisdom to see the big picture in your daily purpose. We need to decide if we want “Success followed by Emptiness” or “Success followed by Impacting Legacy.” I love that the driver in the picture is wearing a hat just like we all wear a different hat of responsibility. Whatever hat you put on, “coach” and drive for influence.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10

5 thoughts on “Cart Before The Horse

  1. What an excellent lesson for learning and leading. I heard John Maxwell say, “ the dream is free, but the journey requires something of you”!
    Coach Winegarden is right. Growing is a sequence of processes , preparing us for a greater future.

    Liked by 1 person

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