Always Be Learning: A Dog Tale


Can you learn from animals? You bet you can. Can you learn things from animals that might influence how you conduct business? I did.

For those of you who know me, you probably know I’m crazy about my dog, Sachi. So it’s inevitable that an anecdote or two about her will crop up from time to time (mostly as an excuse to put pictures of her on the OctoBlog and to drive Ron nuts).

One of the most important things that Sachi taught me is to learn to be calm. You see, Sachi is a rescue. We adopted her from the Toronto Humane Society. She had been found wandering the streets of California malnourished and, evidently, traumatized. We didn’t know at the time that she was so terrified of people. When we met her, she was immediately in our arms covering us with kisses. However, when we brought her home she was terrified of anyone who came into our house.

So we consulted with an animal behaviour specialist. His immediate diagnosis: it was all me. I was too intense. I gave off a vibe that Sachi was picking up on and it was stressing her out. I’ve been told I’m intense my whole life. I never really got it but given the somewhat consistent feedback I guess it has a modicum of truth to it. I prefer to think that it’s just passion and unbridled enthusiasm but impressions are impressions and it’s important to know how you are perceived by people: both negatively and positively. And Sachi was really the first time I took the feedback seriously and learned to change to help reduce her anxiety and increase her confidence.

“And clearly I learned that video calls with a small dog on your lap might not be *the best* idea.”

How has this impacted how I conduct business? Well, believe it or not, I’m calmer. When conflict or challenges arise I have learned not to react but reflect on the reasons that are potentially behind the issue vs reacting to the issue at face value. When I need to confront a difficult conversation I try to reframe it as a positive impact to business instead of fighting to be right. I always say – there are two sides to every story and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. And once you get to the truth that’s when you can start to fix wrongs, course correct errors and forge deeper and more meaningful relationships. Who knew it would take the challenges of a tiny dog to open my eyes to a wealth of wisdom that’s empowered me to get more out of every business interaction with calm confidence.