Monday, April 7, 2008

What Dogs Can Teach Us About Work

It was a glorious weekend -- warm air and sunshine -- and no man or beast enjoyed it more than my Golden Retriever, Annie.

In fact, I spent a lot of time observing Annie this weekend, and I think I came away with some life lessons that would benefit anyone in the workplace today.

1. Take a nap. After chasing a couple of rabbits in the yard, barking at the neighbor's cat and thoroughly sniffing all open spaces, Annie looked a little pooped and headed for some shut eye on the sun-warmed deck. After about 30 minutes, she roused and and resumed chasing birds and barking at the neighbor's cat. The lack of sleep in this country is terrible, and it shows up in the workplace in terms of lost productivity and more accidents, both on the job and while commuting. Nearly 70 million of us are sleep deprived, and that's bad for our mental and physical health. When you're tired, don't check that last e-mail or put in that last load of laundry -- go to bed. Take a nap every day if you can. Annie sleeps when she's tired, and doesn't worry about whether the neighbor's cat will be there when she awakes.

2. Multitasking doesn't make sense. When Annie greets a member of the family, she always brings something to share like a tennis ball or a rawhide bone. Sometimes she'll try and bring a couple of tennis balls and the bone, which slows her down. In the time she spends searching and then trying to organize the items in her mouth, the person she was hoping to share her slobbery treasure with has moved on. She's learned that by grabbing only one thing, she does it quickly, efficiently and reaches her goal in time to enjoy the moment. Multitasking often backfires at work, so take a tip from Annie and do one thing well and enjoy the success of the moment before moving on to....well, barking at the neighbor's cat.

3. Appreciate the hand that feeds you. Every member of our family is greeted with love and lots of tail wagging by Annie, but I have to admit that Annie shows the love a bit more to me every morning because I'm the one who fills her food bowl. I get yips of joy when I pick up the bowl, and the tail wagging that accompanies her meal could generate enough energy to power a small city. Afterward, she always excitedly tracks me down, happily dancing in place as she conveys her gratitude for filling her belly. I think too often we forget that it's our jobs that allow us to feed ourselves and our loved ones, it's our jobs that allow us to pay bills and perhaps travel or buy that new iPhone. So, with job losses on the rise,remember to do an internal happy dance of your own and say "thanks" to those who give you a paycheck.


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