Lessons From Interesting Places
Today I was reading some tips from Cesar Millan, the "dog whisperer", and he offered some great insights that bear repeating.
- Live a balanced life. Milan comments that dogs do best when they have an opportunity to get exercise, have structure, and receive affection every day. I don't know about you, but that sounds remarkably like an environment of engagement to me.
- Trust your instincts. He points out that animals don't "speak" English. As a result they pay close attention to body language, energy levels and other non verbal cues for guidance. Sounds like pretty good advice to me.
- Be direct and consistent in your communications. This one is huge. How many times are we oblique or unclear or inconsistent in our communications? This causes confusion and frustration. I firmly believe that 99% of the people in the world show up every day wanting to do the right work and do it well. Poor communications, inconsistency or other human errors get in the way.
- Learn to be a great listener. Animals are great listeners. They never interrupt you and they never give you unwanted advice. They also never take ownership for your problem or allow you to shift responsibility for solving your issue, they just listen.
- Let go of baggage. Cesar mentions how in dog packs there are no grudges. Issues are resolved and you move on. Think about our organizational environments if we could follow that credo.
- Live with a purpose. Millan points out that when dogs don't have a purpose they can develop bad habits ranging from anxiety to aggression. Sound familiar? Our role as leaders and managers is to create clarity and purpose for our employees, to remove the ambiguity. Think about it. When employees understand the purpose of the organization and where their contributions fit in they spend little time being agitated or anxious. If they cannot buy into the purpose perhaps they are in the wrong "pack". The point remains however that the leader defines the purpose, it is not left to individual "pack" members to figure it out or to determine their role.
- Celebrate every day. For dogs and other animals each day is fresh and without comparison. For me this translates into looking at each project and assignment as a new opportunity to contribute. I tell young people that your career to a great extent is something you look back on. Don't be so concerned about your "career" that you forget or don't take the opportunity to enjoy each job or role you have a chance to participate in. I have had positions or assignments that I didn't enjoy as much as others, but I have tried to train myself to look forward not backward.
There is no "rocket science" or particular wisdom here, but 2009 looks like it will present most of us with some challenges as well as opportunities. We will choose how we react to them. I don't know about you, but I find some of Cesar's tips pretty valuable. My dogs don't seem nearly as anxious about 2009 as I am. Maybe they know something I don't......