I recently got a new puppy. She was just 4 months old when we got her, and so we’ve had to teach her everything we want her to know about the world. We are teaching her tricks and manners and even simple things like where and when we want her to do her business.
I can’t help but feel some parallels to my own work ethic. Not only do I teach my dog the behaviors I want (which, in most cases, mirrors the expression of a project plan or an idea to a colleague), but I also have to set up my expectations clearly and consistently. I can’t change my mind (or change the direction from the boss) and go a completely different direction unexpectedly. I have to remind my dog of the direction we’re going and the things I want regularly. Although my dog doesn’t understand project plans, I am really beginning to see the parallels to weekly meetings when I start a 15-minute training exercise to remind her of good behaviors.
Most of all, though, I’m deeply reminded of the compassion I feel at work and with my dog. My dog is doing her absolute best. When she fails, it’s not because she wasn’t trying as hard as she could to do what I want, it’s because I didn’t communicate it clearly enough to her in a way she could understand. So it is all the time at work: when my colleagues don’t deliver what I wanted, it’s not because they came in to work and decided to do a bad job. It’s because I didn’t communicate clearly enough in a way they could understand what I wanted.
It has taken a lot of patience and consistently to teach my new puppy how to behave in her new life, and I am continuing to learn new things about myself every day in the process.