Dogs are described as man’s best friends and they can be great fun to have around. 

My wife and I had two great Golden Retrievers who were brilliant companions in our house until age finally took its toll about 18 months ago.

What can we learn from our canine friends?

Every interaction is new.  If you have a dog, you know what I’m talking about here.  You can come home from work after 10 hours and be greeted with great excitement.  Then go and get the mail, returning in less than a minute and you are greeted with the same level of enthusiasm. 

What a great lesson for us.  If you work in a customer facing environment, don’t treat customers as if they’re the 50th that you’ve spoken to for the day.  treat them as if they’re the first.  If you’re a parent, don’t roll your eyes when your child talks about something that excites them, engage with them and share their enthusiasm.  If you’re a leader of people, don’t lose interest in communicating a key message with passion just because it’s the 10th time you’ve delivered it that week, do it in an engaging and dynamic way.

They stay focussed until the job is done.  I am thinking about the sniffer dogs at the airport when I write this.  They’re often little beagles and everyone thinks that they look cute, but they keep their noses down, trying to find the contraband that they’ve been trained to seek out.  Then when they find something of interest they are proud of their accomplishment, wagging their tails with great enthusiasm.

Sometimes in life we have a goal that we give up on or get distracted from too easily.  If you want something badly enough, then keep working at it until you achieve your goal.  The other thing that we can often do is forget to celebrate our achievements.  If all we do is toil away without taking the time to reflect positively on meeting our goals, then even the most meaningful task has the potential to become a drudgery.

They don’t make excuses.  I’m thinking here about the huskies who pull sleds in the freezing cold of the Arctic.  They are genuinely amazing animals who perform herculean feats in the harshest of conditions.  The Iditarod Dog Sled Race takes place in the freezing cold of Alaska over a journey of 1,150 miles.  The dogs don’t seem to mind the cold, in fact they thrive in the conditions.  I’ve never heard of a husky turning to his owner and saying, “It’s too cold today, I think I’ll sit this one out.”  They don’t make excuses, they just find a way to get the job done despite the inclement conditions.

What’s your excuse for not achieving great things?

We all have them.  Not enough time, I have a young family, no-one will give me a chance, I’m not clever enough, I don’t have a good enough education, I’m afraid of failure or now isn’t the right time are some of the more common cop-outs that we use.

To quote Og Mandino,

I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult…. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.

If you have a bold aim, a dream that you want to become a reality, start by taking small steps.  Forget about the excuses that you have made in the past and start now.  Start small if you need to, but start now.  You’ll be amazed by what you can achieve by pushing through obstacles and getting on with life.

Our canine friends make a tremendous contribution to our lives and next time you give one a pat, remember to embrace life with enthusiasm, stay focussed on your goals and don’t make excuses.

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