Being Held Hostage by a ‘Sacred Horse’

I received a phone call last week from a very special client; now a good friend. His excited first words were, “Philip, I did it. I got rid of my “sacred horse!”

Hmm? I didn’t know my client had any horses, “You got rid of your WHAT?”

“I finally got rid of my sacred horse,” he repeated. I was still puzzled, but something was definitely different in his voice from the last time we talked. He had been pretty frustrated with business concerns then, as he tried to bring order to his operations.

“It was a hard decision,” my friend continued, “but, just like you described in your book, I had to make the tough decision to let my ‘sacred horse’ go—you know, MICHELE!” (Not her actual name.)

I finally understood what he was saying, “You mean you let go of your sacred COW—not HORSE,” I offered, hoping my erupting laughter wasn’t putting a damper on his enthusiasm. I was well aware of the importance Michele had been to my client’s operation. But, he just joined in the laughter. He was obviously relieved of what had been a burden for him—and his company.


In my book—“System Busters”—I tell the story of a once key player in my own company; one I had also feared losing. I had depended so much on this person, I was sure if they ever left our company we would be in big trouble. Others in our company had the same fears.

So, like many owners, I had danced around the issue and made special provisions for this “special” employee—what some also called MY “sacred cow.” This person was knowledgeable about every facet of our production, and was so “crucial” to my company, I allowed them to get away with things others could not—even at the risk of alienating my entire crew.

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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