We often talk about the things that we learn in business, the lessons that we get, and the people we get the lessons from.
That got me thinking just the other day about how I also think there are some lessons that we can learn not from people, but in fact, from animals.
It got me thinking, what are the things that maybe dogs could teach us about business.
Now, I'm unashamedly a dog person.
If you're not, that's fine.
But I know that over the years, my dogs have taught me a bunch of things.
So I've come up with 10 things that I think that we can learn from dogs.
Let's have a look at that list.
They don't worry about the past.
They don't think about the future.
They just live in the moment, for what's happening right here, right now.
Now, I know that in business you need to think about what's gone on in the past, and are the lessons that you can learn from the past and I realise that we need to plan for the future.
But what we can learn from dogs is that we should be grateful for what we have and enjoy the present.
The truth is there's often a lot of fear around being in business, especially in the current challenging climate.
But interestingly dogs learn ways to overcome their fears.
A number of years ago I had a German Shepherd, who was a trained protection dog, and he was a great guard dog.
However, he was terrified of storms.
No matter how brave he was, when a storm was coming, he'd find a way to sneak into the house and crawl under the bed.
That was his coping mechanism.
How do you deal with fear?
What's your coping mechanism?
My father used to say, "Fear knocked on the door, courage answered, and there was no one there."
So, the lesson from dogs here is to move past your own fears by finding coping mechanisms.
My dog is next to me, right now.
I didn't take him for our normal morning routine walk this morning, yet he hasn't held a grudge against me.
It's not as if he's turned his back on me and ignored me.
Dogs don't hold grudges.
So, think about it - what's something that you might be able to let go of right now?
Maybe it’s a business grudge, maybe it's a personal grudge.
Look for something that you're holding on to that if you let go of, it's going to make your life vastly different, and you're going to see a massive weight lifted off your shoulders.
I was reading an article by Dr Stuart Brown, a Psychiatrist in the United States, who says that play is like oxygen for two reasons.
One, it's all around us all the time, and two, if we breathe it in, we'll live.
So my challenge to you is; when was the last time you played?
To me, play is two things.
It's about physical movement and getting out, whether it's throwing the ball with your dog, playing with the kids, playing in the park, flying a kite, running on the beach, or going for a swim, whatever it might be.
But it's not just about physical movement, it's also about psychological well-being or mental health, and the release of dopamines, and all the neuropsychology that goes around that.
So here’s a challenge: What's something you can do that puts you more into play mode?
And what can you do in the next day or two to actually put you into that play mode?
When was the last time you just showed unabashed joy?
Dogs just jump for joy.
You can go out for five minutes and come back, and they're all over you.
They're just so excited and pleased to see you.
So here’s another challenge: Think of something that makes you happy.
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Now, why aren't you doing it more often?
When did you last jump for joy about something that really makes you happy?
Dogs don't want to be another dog.
They don't want to be a different breed.
They don't wish they were somewhere else.
They just accept who they are.
This links back to that first point I made, about living in the moment.
But sometimes just accepting who and where you are is really valuable.
If we accept that where we are right now is exactly where we are meant to be, it's going to make it much easier for us if we don't really like where that is.
If you're somewhere in your business where you don't really want to be right now, but you accept that you're meant to be there for the here and now, it gives you the opportunity to use that as a launching pad to move forward and to find yourself somewhere else.
When we're talking about setting goals with clients, we often talk about the importance of both destination and journey goals.
In fact, it’s important to enjoy the journey otherwise you won’t enjoy the destination.
When dogs go for a drive, they're hanging their head out of the window.
They don't really care about where they're going.
I asked my dogs if they want to go for a walk, but they don't say to me, "Well, hang on a second. Tell me where we’re going before we decide if we want to go."
They don't care about the destination.
The destination could be the park, the beach, the places they love, or it could just be around the block.
The point is, sometimes you have to stop and actually enjoy the journey and celebrate the little achievements along the way.
Can you see how all these are linked together?
Celebrate your achievements, and enjoy the journey - it's another way of saying be in the moment and jump for joy when you're truly happy.
Dogs are pack animals.
My best mate is a dog trainer who often talks about the link back to wolves and packs. Dogs understand who their pack is.
Who's in your pack?
Whether it's your work pack, whether it's a pack of colleagues, suppliers, contractors, alliance partners, or referral partners.
Whoever it might be, who's in your pack?
How do you show loyalty to your pack?
The flip side of the coin is when people show loyalty to you, how do you acknowledge that?
When was the last time that you actually showed appreciation for the loyalty that's being shown to you?
My dogs drink lots of water.
That’s a good thing to do - rehydrate your body.
They know what their body needs, and so they drink lots of water.
So should you!
I'm not talking about romantic love, or holding hands and singing Kumbaya.
I'm just talking about love in terms of affection, support, loyalty, attention, appreciation, and gratitude; things dogs do unconditionally.
Think about your business: when was the last time that you loved unconditionally?
When was the last time that you acknowledged something that your team have done for you?
What your colleagues have done for you, your suppliers, or whoever it might be?
When was the last time you loved them unconditionally?
Ten things that dogs can teach us that you can apply not only in business but in life in general.
Looking at my dogs at the moment, maybe the eleventh thing is to have a sleep on a nice sunny day.
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