This could be seen as one of my bog standard goal achievement articles, but that would be wrong, because there is nothing standard about what Hayley Turner’s achieved, so read on to see if you agree…
If you’re wondering who Hayley Turner actually is, she’s a British horse racing jockey. In July 2011 she became the first woman to ride the winner of a Group One race, and that seems as good a prompt as any to go over the path she has travelled, and see some tried and tested ideas in practice.
The daughter of a riding instructor, that put her in the environment of horses right from the word go, yes, but there are countless numbers of daughters born to riding instructors, and they don’t go on to be top jockeys.
Once she decided what she wanted to do, a key factor, she set about working hard at it, which is not only another key factor, it may be the most important. She enrolled on a nine week training school, and has not stopped working at it since.
Having got some rides as an amateur, she realised she needed to move to a higher level, and she felt the only place she could get that experience was in the US, so she packed herself off there.
In 2005 she rode the most winners as an amateur, and turned fully professional. The number of rides she got began to increase and things were looking good and in 2008 she became the first woman to ride 100 winners in a year.
Just to show the kind of work involved, she was one of only five jockeys to ride 900 races that year.
The ups have to be taken with the downs, and in 2009 she suffered an accident while training a horse. She was not allowed to race for many months, and there was a period when she didn’t know if she would ever ride in a race again.
She didn’t know if her career was over, after all the work she had put in, but after the lengthy lay off she began working herself back. The racing world again got used to her not as a novelty but as part of the furniture.
Then in July 2011 came her Group One win. The only races in Britain at a higher level are the Classics, like the Oaks and the Derby.
Hayley’s had some great firsts, but she’s not the first high profile woman jockey, and in fact a woman had previously won a Group One race, but that was a dead heat, so the win was not outright.
I did mention though, that she is now no longer considered as a novelty, and that’s one of the key lessons I think she gives us. It was only 40 years ago that women weren’t even allowed to ride races with the men in Britain – that shows how male dominated world it is.
From the very start of her journey, she has had to battle against prejudice, in this case sexism. Girls are great as stable lasses, great for riding horses on the gallops, but rubbish as jockeys, right?
Well, that’s the kind of attitude she has had to fight, and by taking the chances when they came she gradually changed ideas and developed the same acceptance for her that the men are able to take for granted.
Being a jockey is hard work for anyone. It means getting up before dawn everyday, riding in the mornings, then driving thousands of miles a week up and down the country to race courses. Don’t forget the actual races of course!
That routine goes on and on, and with the development of all weather tracks winter is less of a barrier to flat racing than it is to jump racing.
Turner has also recently ridden her 500th winner. Add to that the Group One win and it’s been a good summer. That’s the fruit of years of hard work, years of struggling against others who would want to hold her back, years of coming back after major setback.
You may not want to be a top racing jockey. Your goal may be harder, it may be easier. You might still have to put in years of hard work, but you might not have to battle blocks put in place by other people, like Turner has.
You can take inspiration from what she’s done though – if she has managed to get where she is, why can’t you get to where *you* want to be?
So does her story give great goal achievement lessons? I should say so, and it’s why I say hooray for Hayley Turner!