The Ottumwa Courier


April 28, 2013

What's in a name?

OTTUMWA — With the Kentucky Derby the first weekend of May, I’ve been reading up on the horses ... and the names are just so striking.

Among a list of this year’s horses likely to make the starting gates: “Normandy Invasion, Goldencents, Revolutionary, Will Take the Charge, Java’s War, Charming Kitten, Overanalyzed, Unlimited Budget, Power Broker, Dreaming of Julia and Princess of Sylmar.”

Combine this with past racehorse names like Amazing Sunrise, Silver Charm, Angel Eyes, Sea Biscuit, Black Magic and Tomorrow’s Dreams.

Or how about Whisper, War Emblem, Charismatic, Strike the Gold, Unbridled, Lookin’ at Lucky, Rising Star, Rags to Riches, Tabasco Cat or Victory Gallop.

The owner of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner “I’ll Have Another” said he named his horse because he always wanted another of his wife’s cookies. Yeah, I’ll bet.

I may be crazy, but some of these racehorses have euphoric names. Notice there’s no racehorse names like “Dumpy” or “Stressed Out” or “Exhausted” or “Bloated” or “Burned Out.” There’s no “Humdrum” or “Queasy” or “Hide Under a Rock” going to be at the starting gate. Nor “Pull up the Covers” or “Hit the Snooze” or “Insecure.” Basically all of the emotions you have when you’ve “got a case of the Mondays.”

Want to know why no racehorses have these names? Because no one would bet on them!

So why do humans have such pedestrian, commonplace names? We’re supposed to be at the top of the food chain. You would think we could come up with more inspiring names considering all of our daily emotional challenges.

Yet we have what I call “The Far Side” cartoon names like Sid and Ned and Earl. There’s nothing inspiring there. My name is Matt. Who’s going to bet on a racehorse named Matt? We need names people would pick, hire, invest in, look up to, revere and capture imaginations. Imagine the overwhelming confidence we would have if we had names like Kentucky Derby racehorses.

Picture the conversations ...

“How are you doing, Amazing Sunrise?”

“Oh, I do great, Strike the Gold. And yourself?

“No worries here, Amazing Sunrise.”

Consider the scenarios in everyday life ...

“I’m sorry, we have no tables available — you didn’t make a reservation? Oh, your name is Unlimited Budget? Oh, well right this way sir — we’ll make room for you anytime.”

At the therapist’s office: “So, why are you even here, Victory Gallop?”

“That’s a good question. Actually I feel great. I think our session’s over.”

At a job interview: “So you think you could benefit this company?”

Rising Star: “Let’s just say ... I think I could hold my own.”

Authority figure: “I’m sorry, you can’t come in here.”

Normandy Invasion: “I think you’re mistaken.”

Before a big date: “Who are you going out with?”

“Oh, her name is Tabasco Cat. I heard she’s a wild one.”

Wouldn’t you like to have a friend named, “No worries?” Who wouldn’t?

Wouldn’t you like a name that induced an empowering state of mind?

Names along with the roles we’re forced to rise to, all define our experience of life.

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