Wisdom//

4 Career Lessons I’ve Learned From My Dog

Incorporate these four traits to get the career you want.

Tracy Spohn/ Shutterstock
Tracy Spohn/ Shutterstock

I’ve always loved animals. But my favorite animal by far is a sweet, loving, wet-nosed, cuddly dog. In addition to the unconditional love dogs love to shower on you, there are some great lessons you can learn if you simply pay attention.

Manny, short for Emmanuel, is our nine-year old Goldendoodle, who can make any non-animal lover change their mind and want to adopt a dog of their own. Over the years Manny has been in our lives, I’ve watched him intuitively comfort my daughter when she had a bad day at school, refusing to leave her side. I’ve experienced him putting his head on my lap when I’ve been sick, looking at me as if to say, “I wish I could make it better.” I’ve also caught him barking and playing with my husband as if he’s the puppy, and Manny is the adult. He even somehow knows when to give us space when he senses one of us wants to be alone.

Manny does bring us considerable joy, but through the years I’ve also picked up a few career lessons from how he lives his life. And in all honesty, I believe those lessons would be instructive in any career management plan.

1.Tenaciously Go After What You Want Every Day.

Manny is singular in his desire for affection from his family. First thing in the morning, before anyone leaves the house, as soon as anyone walks through the door, and throughout the evening, Manny is either patiently sitting staring at you or actively pawing you to receive attention and affection.

In order to have the career you want, you can’t just sit back and hope that others will somehow know what you want and make it happen for you. It’s up to you to get clear on what you want and then take tenacious action every day to bring your dreams to fruition.

2. Don’t Let Your Past Dictate Your Future.

Over the course of nine years, Manny has definitely had a few “bad dog” moments. Like when he chewed up my camera’s remote control, when we’ve found him lounging on the leather sofa (he’s not allowed on the furniture), or when he unleashed the contents of the garbage all over the living room rug. While he experiences a bit of shame after being verbally reprimanded for each incident, he quickly moves on as if nothing ever happened.

Don’t let your past hold significance over your future. Learn to let go of any negative thoughts or beliefs about what you’ve done, who you are, or your talents and skills so you can remain open to and ready for everything that’s possible for you in your career.

3. Trust Your Instincts.

When we go to the dog park, I watch Manny size up the other dogs around him. There are some whom he’ll immediately start to play with, and others he won’t give the time of day. He instinctively knows when something is “off” and doesn’t hesitate to trust his judgement.

My clients will often hear a whisper or have an inkling that something’s not right, or that they want to make a change in their career. But they ignore that feeling that something’s “off” and end up wasting years in career misery. Learn to listen to that voice and trust your instincts.

4. You’re Not Too Old To Do Something New (with the Right Incentive).

I often joke that, for the right treat, Manny will do anything. Even though Manny is nine years old, my daughter loves teaching him how to do new things like ringing a bell, carrying his leash, and even bringing us his toys (after all, every dog should learn how to clean up after themselves).

You’re never too old to pivot in your career, find your calling, or do something completely new. You just need a powerful “why” to give you the strength and motivation you’ll need through the process. Spend some time discovering which is the right “treat” for you.

If you look close enough, you’ll see there are many things you can learn from the elegant simplicity of your pet’s life. If you’re second guessing whether to go after that promotion or a new opportunity in your career, grab a notepad and pen, carefully watch your favorite pet for a day, and get ready from some great new insights.

Manny the Wonder Doodle

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