The Preacher and the Cowboy . . .

One day a cowboy decided to go to church, so he tied up his horse, walked through the white doors and sat down on the wooden bench.  He looked around and noticed that he was the only one there.  After a few minutes the preacher appeared, scanned his empty congregation and came over to the cowboy.

“I am sorry about the poor attendance today.  Do you think I should go ahead with the service?”

The cowboy replied.  “Well, Preacher, I’m just a cowboy and don’t know much about church ways, but if I went out to feed my cows and only one showed up, I’d still feed him.”

The preacher thought this was pretty sound advice so he retired to the pulpit and launched into his sermon.

Two hours later the sermon came to an end and the preacher came over to the cowboy.  “How was that?”

“Well, I’m just a cowboy and don’t know much about church ways, but if only one cow showed up I certainly wouldn’t feed him the whole truck load!”

I am involved in lots of meetings and workshops and have sat through literally thousands of presentations.  What always baffles me is how many executives, and others making a presentation, don’t have an appropriate understanding of the audience they are addressing.  “What do they really want to hear?  What format will most appeal them?  How can this material be presented in such a way as to both inform and “wow” them?

Too may presenters make the false assumption that the presentation is about them and their material, when actually, it’s about the audience.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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2 Responses to The Preacher and the Cowboy . . .

  1. Such a relevant story John. It truly talks about the core principle of communication.

    In addition to this, I believe that it is also the responsibility of a keen receiver to put in conscious efforts to understand the subject that is delivered. Because simplifying might lead to dilution of the subject.

    Just as an example, an audience not exposed to classical music might find it as ‘a whole truck load’. In such a case, the performer/presenter is not the only one to be blamed.

    So, the onus of learning a subject lies with the preacher and the cowboy, the presenter and the presentee.


  2. Pingback: I Just Found Out I’m A lesbian! – Joke « Ralphie´s Portal

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