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10 Personal Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned from a Dog

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Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned from a Dog

This January, we got a new family member, and her name is Sadie. I should mention, she’s a Havanese, and was almost 13 weeks old when she got put in a crate, stowed under an airplane and eventually arrived at freight claim at our local airport. Within 24 hours we couldn’t remember life before Sadie, and I like to think that she couldn’t remember life before us.

Years ago, we had a dog, but it had been nearly 14 years since a dog was a part of our daily life. Our kids begged and begged, and we said no, we need to wait. What changed? Why did we finally say yes? I don’t believe that the time was magically right. You and I, we tell ourselves that we need to wait for the right time, the perfect time. Truth: There was no sign from the universe, we just decided to do it.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to make a change, it’s now. The perfect time is when you finally decide to stop thinking about it and take action. You get to choose when to make the leap – no sign from the universe required.  

Needless to say, our 13-week old bundle of joy and energy was not house trained, nor was she a fan of sleeping through the night. Don’t get me started on how much she hated her crate too. You’ve never seen sweetness transform into a dog version of The Hulk until you put our darling into her crate and walk out of the room even for 10 seconds.

Now she’s a whopping six months old, and we’re in a rhythm. The best part is that I have a working buddy. I’m home writing, she’s by my side. Unfortunately, I get up to do literally anything, and she’s like velcro. Still, I am grateful for the day we said yes.

She’s changed our lives for the better, and in the process, I’ve learned about myself, unconditional love and personal leadership.  Who knew there was so much to be learned from a dog?

10 Powerful Personal Leadership Learned from a Dog

When you don’t want to do it, there are times you do it anyway

The dog needs to go outside and do her business at 5:00 AM? You do it, and when she’s done, life is better for all of us. We all cuddle up and go back to sleep.

What’s keeping you up at night that you can get done and finally cross off your list?

You don’t have to be the fixer for things to get better

When someone’s day’s gone wrong, I don’t need to fix it. What they really need is comfort, a moment to take a deep breath, and to let it go. Dog by their side, they can do that.

Are you always jumping in as the fixer or giving people a chance to figure things out and learn to empower themselves to make things better?

Don’t underestimate the power of listening

Something on my mind? I talk to my dog. It’s incredible how much we tell our dogs and they literally never say a word back to us. Still, I’ve been able to sort out some shit with my trusty listener.

Do people feel like they can open up to you without judgment?

Let yourself be excited about the little things

Treat! She comes running. Let’s play! There she is. I leave the room for five minutes and return, it’s like we’ve been reunited after years apart. You know what? Her sweet enthusiasm rubs off on me. Imagine what your positive energy could do for others.

When you’re excited, do you share it?

Some things are simple

On days when she sleeps a lot, she’s tired, not dying of a rare disease. She taps my arm? I could google: Why does my dog tap my arm, read the top 3000 articles that come up to be sure I know every possibility, or I could just take her out.

What are you overcomplicating?

One thing I’ve learned from a dog is to accept that simple pleasures in life are good, and complications are sometimes nothing more than self-fulfilling prophecies.  

Love your people

Every kiss, every cuddle, our hearts soar. Funny thing is, no matter how much love we get, we give more in return.

You shouldn’t be kissing and cuddling at work, but do you show your love and appreciation on the regular?

Related: The Unexpected Leadership Aha from the Audience of Avengers: Endgame

Remember the power of play

Life can get busy and frustrating and over-packed, and you know the first thing that goes? Play. Sadie never forgets to play and when I watch her fetch the ball with zest, tug on a rope or chow on her toy.

Are you making time for play or are you all business all the time?

Go for a walk

I’m an offender. I sit in my chair all day and then I get stuck, not in my chair, but in my creative process. You know what shakes lose new ideas and ways of thinking? Movement, a change of venue, a break in the routine. Dog needs to walk, I walk. Win-win.

Do you move during the day? When is the last time you took a walk?

It’s important to socialize

Dogs that aren’t socialized become scared and sometimes aggressive. Bottom line is they don’t know how to behave well around others.

Do you know some people like that? You don’t need to say it out loud but, is that you?

Training helps

Sit. Down. Stay. Come. For the first month, our dog didn’t even blink when we said her name. We were consistent with training, (ok for some commands) and she learned.

Are you consistent with your approach so people know what to expect from you?

Do you have a dog? What have you learned from a dog about personal leadership and life?

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