Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What Dogs Can Teach Us About Careers -- and Life

It's been about a year since my beloved dog, Annie, went to doggie heaven. She was a constant companion while I worked every day, and recently I came across this post I wrote about her several years ago. In honor of a great friend, here's a repeat of the post.

Valuable career advice can be gleaned from a variety of sources, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Apple founder Steve Jobs and even Monty Python.
I recently sat down my dog, Annie, to find out why dogs seem to be just so darn happy with whatever job they’re asked to do in life.

AB: Thanks for agreeing to chat today. I have to be honest that I never thought I’d be asking you for career advice.
Annie: I’ll bet you never thought I’d find that ball you hid the other day so you could stop playing fetch, either, did you? Did you honestly think I wouldn’t find it under that chair cushion?
AB: Uh, OK. You caught me there. Actually, that brings up a good question that readers may find helpful. How do you stay so tenacious in getting what you want? How come you never seem to give up?
Annie: Dogs don’t worry about the future. We live in the here and now. We’re not worried about what anyone else thinks of our actions – we want what we want. Why get bothered with distractions when they don’t really matter?
AB: You’re telling me that you never get distracted? What if a squirrel ran right by you?
Annie: Squirrel?!? Where? Where?
AB: That was just an example. Can you focus, please?
Annie: There’s another lesson for you. You humans get cranky over the dumbest things. There’s no reason to get your back up. A simple growl is enough.
AB: Are you saying humans aren’t good communicators?
Annie: Honestly? You humans are the worst. Simple directions are the best. You go on for 10 minutes about how I need to behave on a walk, when all I really want is to pee on that mailbox and sniff the dog next door. I end up forgetting what you told me to do, and then I’m the one who gets the “bad dog” look.
AB: Yeah, about that sniffing. What career lesson are you trying to teach with that one?
Annie: Look, there are some things humans will never understand, OK? Next question.
AB: I get your point about staying focused on your goals and keeping communication simple and direct, but what exactly am I supposed to learn from dogs when it comes to peeing on mailboxes or trees?
Annie: Look, we dogs know that if you want to stay ahead in the pack you’ve got to make sure others know you’re around. We mark our territory not to be mean, but to say “I’m here. What’s up?”
AB: Sounds a lot like networking among humans.
Annie: Yeah, that’s sort of it. But without the expensive drinks and lousy cheese puffs.
AB: I think what a lot of people want to know is why you dogs are so happy with what you’ve got going on. I mean, we humans stress over our careers, over balancing our work and family demands – even over missed emails. What’s your secret?
Annie: As I said, dogs focus on the here and now. If we’re tired, we take a nap. If we’re hungry, we eat. If we want to play, we try to find someone to throw a ball. We focus on what we need to do to be content or happy or relaxed in that moment. When you take that approach, you never know what great thing will come along – without you even worrying about it.
AB: You mean like a squirrel?
Annie: Squirrel?!? Where? Where?


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