It’s a mystery as to whether this pivotal nudger ever existed. But, this special cowboy exemplifies what it means to work on being our best selves so that we are available and aware at any time to help solve problems and make a difference. He’s on a quest to have the time of his life during the holidays and finds himself on a different journey. He is Stubby Pringle, born with spurs on.
Episode 23 Show Notes
- Stubby Pringle Story – available on Amazon
Episode 23 Show Script
This is Rebecca Clark. Episode 23. Stubby Pringle This’ll Podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk? One of the concepts or principles that I like to bring up quite a bit is the concept of nudging. And if you look at the dictionary definition, it talks about how it’s to touch or push something gently or gradually Cokes, or gently encourage someone to do something. Approach very closely or a light touch or push, and we all nudge every day, and we’re all nudged by others individuals, groups, organizations, et cetera every single day.
And I’ve talked about pivotal nudges before, and I’ve talked about nudging throughout other podcasts. But today I wanted to share a very specific story about a nudge er that may have never existed except in a Christmas story. And it’s a story that somehow my parents found in a book years ago in Michigan, and the first time we heard it, we loved it all. The ages of Children are family, loved it. At the time it was shared, and I wanted to share it with you, and I’m actually going to read what I’ve written about the story because I had already written it in the context of looking at the main character as a nudge.
ER and the main character is called Stubby Pringle, which is a very unique name. But since it’s December, I figured this was a good time to combine some more thoughts about nudging and about the holidays, and use this as an example of who we can be in the human orbits we operate in on a daily basis. So I’m going to read this and perhaps have some commentary at the end of it. But this is kind of a summary of the story, and I encourage you to go read it on your own, and I’ll provide links to different books that this story is in.
So here we go, and I’m reading this from a book I wrote a couple of years ago called The Nudge Factor. It’s a typical December in Michigan. The wind whips the snow through the huge mountain ash trees surrounding our home, and we can feel it’s seeping through the wooden windows. We huddle in our blankets in the middle of the living room floor toe. Listen to my father and mother. Take turns sharing a story. It’s a Christmas inspired story that we’ve never heard before. The story is from another time and place, filled with mountains, cabins, prairies, country stores, ranches and little school houses.
This story is about stubby Pringle, Ah, hardworking cowboy with very little spare time and even less money. In fact, he’d saved up all his time off for one special yearly event at a schoolhouse over 20 miles away. If you’re riding a horse, this is important. It’s not a 20 minute drive in a car. It’s quite the trek on a wintry day in the mountains. He is full of hope and excitement. He’s going to have the time of his life at this party. All the long hours of hard labor will be worth it once he rides up to the schoolhouse and dances the night away as he prepares to take on the 20 mile journey, he frequently reminds the reader that he is stubby Pringle, born with spurs on nursed on torrential, a juice weaned on rawhide at home in saddle of hurricane and shape of horse that can race to outer edge of eternity and back heading now for hijinks.
Two months overdue, he is 10 feet tall, and the horses, gigantic with wings, iron boned and dynamic, fueled soaring in 40 foot leaps down the flank of the whitened wonder of a Winter World, were enthralled. Stubby Pringle was larger than life. He was big and strong and was a man on a mission. He was going to make it to that schoolhouse dance, no matter what got in his way. As the story progresses, we find out that his journey slows down as a heavy snow starts to fall. He is persistent and continues until he sees a small light in the valley.
He also hears a sound. Someone is chopping wood out in the storm and has trained ears know that the person isn’t good at it. Something must be wrong. Why else would they be out in a storm? Chopping wood? He can’t help himself, and he steers his horse toward the sound. He sees an exhausted woman out in the cold chopping wood. He stops to help her and finds out that her husband is sick and cannot perform the task. She had to brave the storm to make sure they’re small.
Family could stay warm in the fiercely cold night. What ensues is a series of moments that turned into a wonderful story. Stubby chops the wood, takes it into the home and sees there’s no Christmas tree. He is compelled to go chop one down. Remember, he has Stubby Pringle and 10 feet tall and finds out there are no decorations. He find supplies in a saddlebag that happened to be helpful for creating decorations and gifts. He sits with the woman as she works, and he whittles a few wooden toys for the Children.
Ultimately, he shared everything he had with this family so they could experience Christmas. Of course, all of this takes a bit of time, And so when he returns to his horse gigantic with wings, though it may be and rides over the last hill to the schoolhouse. The last buggy is pulling away the dance of the year’s over, and he missed it all. We are heartbroken for him. He was so kind and worked so hard and then such a sad ending. But then he hears reindeer coming over the hill toward him.
A big, jolly white bearded man drives by and with a twinkle in his eye and a jovial shout, he cries. Well done, Partner Stubby Pringle sits up in a saddle and is reinvigorated by this amazing interaction and vows that though he missed out this year, he’ll be back next year. All his efforts were not wasted. He’d helped the family in the cabin if he had to do it all over again to feel the real power and hope of it, you must read the entire story. It demonstrates the deeper spirit of nudging.
Let’s break down the story to figure out all that is going on. There’s a family that is feeling hopeless. They’ve given up on trying to celebrate one of their favorite holidays. They live in the middle of nowhere. It is cold outside. It is cold inside the cabin. The father is sick and cannot chop the wood to keep his family warm. The woman tries to assist her family in a task that she has apparently never done chopping wood in so doing, her efforts attract the attention of someone going by someone with a purpose on another path and in a hurry.
That person, Stubby Pringle, has a trained ear and nose that something isn’t right with how the person is going about chopping the wood. It’s off. There’s this moment where he talks to himself in his head. Should he really stop and investigate, he decides he has a moment to spare and goes toward the sound. He is right. His expertise and chopping wood detected an amateur, and he uses his time to assist. Does he help her learn how to do it? No, not right now. He’s informed enough to know that this isn’t the moment for training her.
In a new skill, she needs to provide immediate warmth to a sick husband and small Children. Stubby chops the wood and carries the load back to the home. At this point, he is aware he signed up for something larger than chopping the wood. He’s aware there’s no food nor tree nor gifts. Of course, he is aware he is stubby Pringle, but being so attuned, it means he’s aware of a problem that only he can resolve, and this leads him to trudging back out into the snow to find a small Christmas tree to bring the holiday spirit into the home.
It also drives him to share the gifts he’d brought along with him on the journey the gifts intended for the ladies at the schoolhouse dance. His actions bring warmth and happiness to a home in need of hope and holiday spirit. He’s created a miracle. This story doesn’t focus on what happens to this family after Stubby Pringle leaves. But wouldn’t it be safe to assume they remembered that day for the rest of their lives? That moment, someone came out of nowhere and changed their holiday. Stubby was a nudge er and didn’t know it.
He was also good at following nudges in this case, nudges in the form of spiritual promptings. Something in him not only knew that someone else needed help, but he also realized that he was the one that was responsible to do the acting. No one else just him alone on a cold night, a night he’d rather be somewhere else. There, stubby Pringles all around us. Isn’t that a great story? I feel like they’re so many lessons to it that we can apply in our life and in our work and I just wanted to point out a few, even though I’ve touched upon some in the prior passage.
But first of all, this was a hardworking person that had a vision for a purpose of what they wanted to accomplish in life and specifically on this cold, wintery evening. They had saved up money and time off for a very long time in anticipation of having a wonderful time at a dance and to come prepared to be anxiously engaged in the activities at that dance, to bring gifts, to provide friendship and to hopefully create more relationships in the process. This cowboy was good at his job and he worked it very hard every day.
And so when he’s on his journey to fulfil this purpose he has, he is not only aware of his purpose and excited about it. But he’s also aware of his surroundings and is able Thio use that awareness to help others in his path, and he specifically gets to use some of the talents he’s already honed in another setting. He’s obviously strong. He’s able to cut down trees, is able to carry them. He’s able to set things up in a home he’s able to survey situations and see what is needed.
He doesn’t have to be told everything that needs to be done. He’s perceptive enough to see what needs to be done. He knows how to make trade offs. In the first part of the story, I didn’t share it, but he’s talking to himself a bit, you know, on Okay, I can help in this way, and I could still get to the dance. I can still get to my destination. Okay, I can help this one more thing and still get to my destination. And then there’s a point where he has to decide what’s the most important task to focus on.
Is it to get out the door, or is there a more important purpose? Where he’s at that must be accomplished, and he’s the only one that can accomplish it. And what I like about this is that these air a series of choices and each of us have these choices in our life and in our work, where along the way, at first you might do something just to be helpful. But then there’s a point where we have to say okay, is my helping aligned with what my overall goal is.
Is it aligned with the broader goal of helping someone in need? And that has now become my purpose for this moment? Or should I reassess this and get help in another way? And I think that’s important in life and on the job to recognize when you are the person to assist and when you are not, when you need to get someone else to do that helping. And in this case it’s very clear there was no one else that could do it. He was the one to do it and he was helpful, and he could use all his talents and wisdom toward helping this family.
But in the workplace and in life, often it’s not a situation where were the only one. We’re not often nestled in a valley in the mountains by ourselves are there are plenty of people around us and there are other people that can help, and it becomes wisdom and strength on our part to understand when we have the skills and capabilities to do what is needed and when we need to go get someone else to assist in that process, and it’s very tough, especially because you know, the overall story I’m sharing is about being helpful and using our skills and talents toward helping others.
But there’s a wisdom that has to come on how and when to do that. And I think in work environments we experienced this all the time where people are willing to break a standard or a process to help someone not realizing that if we do that over time, pretty soon there is no standard. There is no process because everyone’s deciding what that is for themselves, and then you cannot operate together toward a higher purpose. If we’re constantly doing that in the name of helping. And that’s a whole nother episode, actually, where we can explore finding that balance of taking initiative and helping and where sometimes the best way to help is lead people back to a standard lead people back to a process and have them help themselves.
And in this story it’s interesting. I mean, we also learn about how sometimes it isn’t important to teach someone how to do something. It’s important just to get a job done and learning the balance of that in life and in the workplace. When should you do something for someone? And when do you step back and take the time to teach them how to do it for themselves so they can maintain that for themselves, going forward for a longer period of time? But Stubby Pringle is such a great example of the holiday spirit and the importance of constantly learning and growing because then, when we do notice, someone needs help.
When we do notice something needs to change or that were the only person to do something, we actually have the capabilities in the skill sets to do them and the inner strength to do them and the capabilities to discern what trade offs need to be made and what’s the best choice for all. And sometimes through this, we find a new purpose, a new opportunity, a new job. And sometimes these things happen just for us to have lessons learned to apply to the purpose that we already have.
So I hope you take some time this season to read Stubby Pringle. I will leave some links in the show notes and hope you are having a great December. Thank you for listening to another episode of the move your desk show. If you enjoyed listening, I would love if you would take the time to give a five star review and share the podcast with friends that are seeking to find and do their best work.