Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's a Dog's Life

A Dog's Life

I’m always writing about and talking about our dogs.  Two Jack Russell terriers, 10 year’s old, born in the same kennel a day apart, and given to us by our daughter as a holiday surprise.  And they came with the names she gave them: Will and Grace. And from that moment they’ve run our lives.

We’ve moved them from Las Vegas, to Laguna Beach, to the Adirondack Mountains, to Brooklyn. Very different places, but they’ve always adapted even when we thought they wouldn’t. Because we’re devoted to them they’re loyal to us; and they’re thrilled no matter where they are as long as they’re with us. That’s love. Unconditional love. And a good lesson to learn. That’s the cool thing with dogs – they’re not only our best friends but they’re also pretty good teachers.

Another cool thing about dogs is that most of the things you do with them are their favorite things. Time to eat – that’s their favorite thing. Time to go to bed – well, that’s their favorite thing too (these two sleep not only on the bed but under the covers). Give them a bone or a doggie treat – hey, those are favorite things too. Want to take a walk – hurry up, cuz that’s their favorite thing!  Sitting in the sun – oh my, that’s a really favorite thing too!

And speaking of walks, these two can take up to an hour to walk around the block, because no matter how many times they’ve taken that same path, there are so many smells to be sniffed that are new and exciting. My friend Kate from Laguna Beach calls it p-mail (just a little dog walker’s humor). But you can just picture it: noses to the ground, scampering from one spot to the next, all the while excited to be doing… their favorite thing.

And the lesson here is that no matter how much you think you know something, or how accustomed you are to doing something, or how mundane the task might be, you should always be curious and excited because that’s the first time you’re doing it that time.  A few years ago I had the chance to watch Sting sing Roxanne to a convention group – and even though he’d probably sung that song hundreds of times before, he sang it to them like it was the first time. We asked him how he could have it seem so fresh and new? “Well, he said, to them it was the first time”.  Huh!  He was so right. Like our dogs are so right. It’s always best to be in the moment, to be so excited and curious and full of wonder in every moment. That’s how to get the most out of life, to live life to the fullest, and to be the most and best you can be.  That’s the lesson from the dog’s life.

My message this week is about acting and being professional:

Arte Nathan“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”  

-Kenneth Blanchard

Kenneth Hartley Blanchard (born May 6, 1939) is an American author and management expert. His book The One Minute Manager has sold over 13 million copies and has been translated into 37 languages.

Ever see a professional try to push someone into doing something? Unless they’re a Sumo wrestler, chances are that the professionals you know in business or your personal life are the kinds of people who help guide rather than push you into things.  That’s because the key to being successful at anything – leadership, friendship, mentorship, stewardship – all of these and more rely on the not so subtle art of influencing others. Being good at what you do, being knowledgeable about the things you do, being humble in showing what you know – these are the things you look for in others and what others will look for in you. Never underestimate the needs that people have to learn new things or to be helped to better understand the things that confound them. Be aware of how you approach people:  be open, understanding, sensitive and patient, and show them through the strength of your influence how they can be better. In this, showing is always better than telling!

Stay well!

1 comment:

  1. As a teacher, I have always found that telling students what to soon fades compared with having influenced then. In a way, students are programmed to take instructions, to appeal to the authority. "Professor Sigman, just what are you looking for in this assignment?" They seek to please, but they want to get "it" right. "I am looking for you to find your own connections and to be able to articulate what YOU discover," or something like that, is my answer.

    Every so often, I get an email from a student whom I have forgotten, at least by name. They remember one of my art history classes, a certain lecture, and they thank me for giving them the freedom to think for themselves. Why they choose after ten years to send me that message, I do not always know. But, this is the result of influence; you never know when those seeds will sprout.

    Joke: "If you put your dog and your wife in the trunk of the car, and drive them around for an hour, who will be the one glad to see you when you open it later?"