Her Morning on Horseback

Vicky was a lawyer in her early 40s whose main challenge was breaking through obstacles in a male-dominated profession. Her father was overinvolved in her life, offering unwanted advice and suggestions. This relationship had taken its toll on her self-esteem and had contributed to her perception that her abilities and potential were limited. Vicky was determined to change and break through the invisible barriers in her career.

It turned out that the legendary turning point for Vicky had happened ten years earlier, when she was in her 30s, as a young lawyer. She and her male colleagues had gathered to ride horses together one early fall morning. Vicky was a bit reluctant to go, as she didn’t know much about horses. But she knew she had to do it if she wanted to be accepted by her male colleagues. Everyone but her was already mounted. As she looked up at them, all confidently seated on their horses, she was terrified. But she knew she had to prove her fitness to join the club.

Suddenly a docile old horse appeared out of the hazy fog, almost as if by magic. He gently nuzzled her shoulder and waited quietly for her to make the next move. He stood patiently as she mounted, offering his broad back so she could strike a good pose. Now she was on the same level as the men and could look them in the eye, and she felt their respect for her for conquering a fear. In this scene from her past, she experienced the support of a beneficent, gentle male and the admiration of male colleagues.

As Vicky thought about this incident from her past, Joan of Arc came into her mind, someone she admires very much. A thought came to her: “When I was on that horse I felt just how she must have felt the first time she sat in front of her army.” Vicky combined two elements of her knowledge – her memory of her own experience and her admiration for a strong female leader – to create a new self-image as a capable woman who could succeed. This became the core of her legend, a scene that launched her into a period of greater focus on her career with the confidence that barriers can be removed.