Dog owners truly love their little beasties. We snuggle them, play with them, and care for them and, while they may seem like simple beings, their instinctual responses hold much meaning.
Here are a few of the lessons and reminders you can pick up from your dogs (and in some cases cats, too). They're not just cute, they're pretty darn smart!
The art of listening
Who listens to your problems better than your faithful pooch? Those gorgeous eyes tell you he's listening, even if he may not be capable of providing verbal feedback. But we don't always need feedback, do we? There is no more valuable quality than the ability to lend an ear, and our four-legged friends have that down.
Two-way communication is the key to a successful business, but many people don't seem to understand that skilled listening, not talking, should make up the majority of their communication. Your customers, prospects, partners, and employees have a lot to say. Do more listening than talking and experience the magic!
We've all witnessed how dogs use that powerful sniffer to greet one another and how thorough they are in assessing whether or not to befriend a new acquaintance. If your dog doesn't like the other dog after a few sniffs, she will have nothing to do with it. If she senses a threat, she may even become aggressive, guarding her territory (and you) with a vengeance.
Sometimes in their haste to close a deal, develop a partnership, or hire a new employee, entrepreneurs fail to do their due diligence. Thoroughly investigate those with whom you wish to develop a relationship. And most importantly, take a page from Fido's book and follow your instincts!
Who can stir up feelings of guilt better than a dog who's been "abandoned" by his vacationing owner? Even though Fido's been left in good hands, he's capable of sending strong signals to let you know his feelings have been hurt by your absence. But a pat on the head and a yummy treat will get his tail wagging once again. He loves you and won't hold a grudge for long.
While it's important to develop keen instincts and learn from your experiences, it's also important to forgive and let go. A great leader won't fail to forgive employees who make a mistake or a customer who occasionally becomes overly demanding. These grudges will keep you from being your best self and possibly from making decisions that are in the best interest of your company. Open communication is critical, especially amongst team members. Don't let things fester--course-correct and move on.
Even if dogs are somewhat indifferent about one another (like my two guys are), they will snuggle up on a chilly evening to share their warmth. They eat out of one another's bowls and share a water bowl without thinking twice about it. And they wait patiently for their turn, respecting one another's needs.
While it may seem contrary to success, people whom you consider competitors just might be willing to share a mutually beneficial relationship. I love networking with other coaches and business consultants. We learn from one another, share valuable information, and boost one another's spirit. When you come across a great tidbit of information, reach out to a peer and share, using good judgment of course. Competition can be friendly and even produce the occasional lead.
Dogs share responsibility across the pack. They tune into each other's needs and emotions by observing certain responses and cues, just like an evolved human does. The pack knows one another as well as they know themselves because their very existence depends on it. When a stranger enters my home, you bet that my two canine companions work side-by-side to make sure the "intruder" is not a threat.
Delegation is one of the most threatening tasks for many entrepreneurs. After all, no one can do the job like you can, right? You may be surprised to find that there are people who can do it even better if you let them. If you develop a culture of teamwork in your business, you are far more likely to succeed.
So what have you learned from your pets? If you study them closely, there are many bits of wisdom to pick up--your furry friends are more evolved than you may think!