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Every person who supervises anyone should see the documentary film Buck, which received the U.S. Documentary Competition Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. A first effort for writer and director Cindy Meehl, it is available in streaming video and DVD from Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and Blockbuster.

This film is about horses, but much of it relates even more to human beings and how they can most effectively approach and influence others. The simple, homespun philosophy of trainer Buck Brannaman is a clear message which should reverberate with all of us, even if we have no interest in horses.

Buck is the true story of the son of an abusive father who grew up on a Montana ranch and learned through a troubled early life and through firsthand experience how to properly start (not break) colts, and how to relate to people as well. Some may remember that Brannaman worked closely as a lead consultant with Robert Redford, who appears in the trailer of this documentary, during the filming of The Horse Whisperer.

As Brannaman travels the United States modestly teaching his method of training horses, he displays an unusual skill in handling both the problem animals and their owners. His plain speech and uncompromising but sometimes humorous comments are insightful. Audiences in dusty corrals all over the country begin to understand, many for the first time, where their previous training efforts might have gone wrong. And, along the way, they learn a lot about themselves.

Here are some of Bucks quotes from the film, gleaned by horsewoman Stephanie Krahl, plus some business applications they bring to mind:

Controlling your emotions is the biggest challenge for a horseman. Think supervisor here, in place of horseman, when handling a touchy situation with a subordinate. Becoming frustrated or angry achieves nothing. Leadership and sensitivity, not punishment, are essential.

All great horsemen understand that its important to find that balance between being gentle as possible but firm as necessary. In the end, it becomes a dance between two willing partners. Nothing is ever forced, theres connection and understanding and the horses dignity stays intact, its never compromised. Think of a supervisor, who needs to be gentle but firm, and a subordinate, who wants to have his or her dignity remain intact. As Bucks foster mother said in the film, If youre flexible, youll never get bent out of shape. If nothing is forced, a business relationship can also become a successful dance between two willing partners.

Your horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see, sometimes you will. Frequent self-analysis and thoughtful introspection is good for anyone who supervises other people. Observe the reactions of subordinates; they may mirror your soul. Make an effort to understand why you are acting in certain ways, and work to achieve kindness, understanding and personal growth from the experience.

Finally, an underlying theme of the film highlights the importance of treating others, animal or human, in all walks of life and under all circumstances, as you would like to be treated yourself. A thorough acceptance of this approach will make you an effective supervisor, as well as an admirable individual much respected by those around you.

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