On a cool, rainy evening in October 2018, Hoosier Park was hosting the “Super Night” of Indiana’s best in harness racing. And a long-shot named “It’s Time for Fun” was in 6th place as the horses came down the stretch. But then “Fun” hit a faster gear and sprinted past them all and won easily. Friends and four generations of the breeder and owner got to the winner’s circle just in time for the celebration and fun. And that owner shined a grin and said, “It takes a team!”
Who is the owner and breeder of “It’s Time for Fun”? My dad, Lynn Wilfong, 79 years young. I intentionally used the word “young”, as he sure loves his phrase that he shares regularly: “Have someone to love. Love what you do. Have something to look forward to.” And he has also been heard to say, “I will die with my boots on.”
Love. Four generations showed up to see “It’s Time For Fun” win the 3 Year Old Filly Indiana Sires Stakes: his wife, Barbara, of 58 years; his three adult children & their spouses; and some of the grand children and a great grandchild.
Work. Lynn has been working with harness horses since he was a young boy. And he continues to be patient with them, even after 6-7 decades of being around these large and loving creatures.
Look Forward. Although my dad has suffered some losses and also some health challenges in the last couple decades, he sure studies his own health and how to improve it just like he studies harness horse breeding and racing. He is looking at ways to find the right mixture of breeding to win at the value that he is willing to pay, and still bring a return to his harness racing business.
How does he do this and also leverage his team? He has a vision, and that is to keep winning, especially in Indiana and Illinois. He and mom, along with my brother and his wife (Brett and Candy), truly have defined roles. Dad studies and recommends breeding, and helps ensure the mares have healthy foals. He and Brett raise and haul them, and Brett trains them. My nephew, Kyle (Brett’s son, who is 4th generation in the harness racing business now) is the driver. Kyle’s girlfriend, Nicole, is the caretaker (groom) of the horses that are being raced and trained, and she is growing and now a trainer. And the revenue and expenses are tracked by Barbara and Candy. For decades, Barbara leads the effort to ensure all of the horses are named and registered. Very clear roles, with a goal of winning in Indiana and Illinois with well cared for horses. They also leverage vets, blacksmiths, and feed companies. All of these roles are very specific, and they rarely duplicate work. The goal for everyone is to be accountable to helping the horse(s) be as healthy as possible so that it can professionally perform in nearly any condition (rain, heat, sleet, wind and cold weather).
With a clear Vision, clear Roles, and clear Goals for each person on your team, you will most likely continue to succeed even as you approach your 8th decade. In my coaching work, I can sense dysfunction or lack of accountability quickly. It typically is because something is NOT clear with the Vision, or the Roles, or the Goals. If all three are clear, you can most likely expect good results. And good results just might lead to “It’s Time for Fun”.