I regularly take my canine pals Captain Jack and Bella out for a walk during the days I’m working from home. They get very excited when I utter the word “walk.” That changes momentarily when I pull their harnesses out. They hate being manacled in this unsavory fashion (I think they’re afraid of what the other dogs are saying). Once harnessed and leashed, they fly out the door with great vigor to stretch out their legs. Captain Jack seems to just enjoy taking a stroll. Bella on the other hand is constantly on the lookout. Any smell, sight, or inkling of another dog throws her into a high level of perspicacity. On meeting other dogs, she is very careful to do a complete investigation to determine their intentions. I don’t know how she does this, but she’s very good at it! Once accepted, the dogs part company and we finish our walk. Before heading back to the office to work, they each are given a snack for a job well done.
You can learn a lot from a dog.
Empirical evidence shows that dogs by their very nature behave in ways that we mere humans can learn from in our business behaviors. My story of our daily walk brings five of those lessons into view…
Strive for Consistency. Dogs crave consistency. Whether it’s their walk or napping by the heater in my office, they are creatures of habit. There are things in our world we should make habitual. For instance, marketing activities, goal setting, reading the local and national business journals, returning phone calls and e-mails promptly, and inspiring your employees.
Show restraint. The dogs need to be restrained in their harness for their own good and health. Many times, our mouths and pens need to be restrained from embarrassing ourselves. Show discipline in your actions. Always re-read those e-mails when you’re angry before you hit “send.” Pause and think before you speak. You never can get the toothpaste back in the tube, and you can’t pull back sent e-mails and pernicious words.
Meet challenges with reckless abandon. My dogs literally fly out the door for their daily jaunts. You should do the same to meet your day. Each day will be filled with success and adversity; normalcy and challenges. If you choose to enter that day with apprehension or dreariness, then you will be bound to infect others with that attitude and your day has little chance of success. But, if you attack your day with vim, vigor, and vitality, your positive attitude will carry over to others and put you in a position to enjoy a terrific day. Basically, your attitude is what makes your own luck!
Sniff out your competition. It’s foolhardy not to know what your competition is doing. Be cognizant of your similarities and disparities. Be prepared to articulate to your prospects what makes you different, if not a better value. Don’t you think Apple knows what Microsoft and Google are doing?
Reward yourself. When you’ve accomplished something, even if a small item, reward yourself. It’s good for the spirit. Whenever I finish a new column or article, I reward myself by buying a new song for my iPod. May seem like a minor thing, but it’s something I look forward to, just like the dogs look forward to their treat. How much more effective would you be if you rewarded yourself regularly for your jobs well done?
Dogs are lucky. They do things naturally while we humans often need to learn. Fortunately, we can use them as good teachers.
Let’s go for a walk!
(Editors note: Dan Weedin is a Poulsbo-based management consultant, speaker, and mentor. He helps entrepreneurs, organizations, and small business owners to create remarkable results through leveraging the power of relationships. He is one of only 28 consultants in the world to be accredited as an Alan Weiss Master Mentor. You can reach Weeding at (360) 697-1058; e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the web site at www.DanWeedin.com.)
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