As the President and CEO of MMG, I have the immense privilege of working with wonderful, talented people, both within and outside of our organization. And if there’s one thing I’ve discovered from these relationships, it’s that we have a lot to learn from those around us. How does a colleague or business partner approach their day? Solve a problem? Treat those around them? What’s their unique perspective on a challenge or opportunity? There is value in assessing how others experience the world and applying those lessons in our own lives.
But what if we don’t stop there? A recent walk with my two dogs – Lucy and Ellie – got me thinking about the lessons they’ve taught me. It may be an unexpected source of inspiration, but perhaps a dog’s attitudes and behaviors translate better than we may think into our approach to life and daily interactions with others. Here are a few learnings from our routine trips around our neighborhood.
1. We should always be ready to go.
Both Lucy and Ellie look forward to their regular adventures and are more than excited to get out and about. They are always ready to go and grateful to have the chance. What if we all approached each project, each meeting, or each day with this vigor?
2. We can always be grateful.
Tails wagging and loving looks tell me that my dogs are appreciative of the opportunity to stroll our neighborhood. I strive to have the same attitude (tail wagging not required) as I reflect on my good fortunes and the opportunities I have to positively impact others.
3. Curiosity is a good thing.
From the time we leave our driveway, Lucy and Ellie embrace each new sight, smell, sound, and experience with reckless abandon. They get energy from what’s new and different and never fear it. This reminds me of the need to seek learning and embrace change.
4. Friendliness matters.
My dogs have never met a person who they don’t want to connect with. They stop and sit as strangers approach, hoping that they’ll get the chance to make a new friend. This is a great reminder to me of the way new personal connections happen.
5. Exploring the unknown is exciting.
We have our normal walking route, but when we vary our routine, I can sense the positive energy in my dogs. I try to take this into my own life and be excited by, rather than fear, the unknown.
6. Sometimes it is ok to relinquish control.
While appreciating the opportunity to explore, my dogs know that they need to stay close to me. They are trained to respect boundaries to ensure their safety and know they can count on me to look out for their wellbeing. We can all benefit from acknowledging and accepting the limits to what we can control. And as leaders, it’s helpful to remember that handing over responsibility to others can be healthy for everyone.
I could go on about the lessons our four-legged friends can provide – like pacing ourselves, protecting each other, remaining trainable, understanding the need to pause, or knowing our way home – but I think you understand the point.
As you go about your day, I challenge you to find lessons and inspiration in unlikely places. Maybe it’s while walking your dogs, playing with your kids, or practicing your favorite hobby. Whatever it is, pause and observe. You might just be surprised by what you learn.