July 24, 2017 – Look a Gift Horse In the Mouth

Yes, you read that right. I know the standard version of that phrase is “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” My experience has taught me not to take that advice. Think about it for a minute and I believe many of you will agree with me.

I understand the original intent of the phrase. It had to do with trust and manners when receiving a gift. However, trust has nothing to do with the gift and everything to do with the giver. If it’s about trust, it’s not about the horse. Checking a horse’s teeth gave the recipient insight into the age and health of the horse. If I didn’t have a close relationship with the giver, I’m always checking the horse’s teeth. I don’t want to be stuck with a worn out old nag ready for the glue factory which is going to cause me more trouble than it’s worth.

Nothing is free..even free things. I’ve seen bosses take employees because they come “as free labor” since someone else is paying their salary. Not once has this worked out including one time where the employee ended up being arrested and kicked out of government service. There’s a significant difference between a gift from a friend or trusted colleague and a reject wrapped in nice paper. Don’t worry so much about being polite or adding to your stockpile when someone offers you a “gift horse.” Check it out thoroughly and then make a decision. If the giver gets mad, either they or the gift weren’t worth it.

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