We are living in a condo while we build our house. It’s the final house we will build. Of course I say that every time, my wife reminds me. There are several things that I really enjoy about our current housing situations and a few that I don’t enjoy.
Our dog is a mix of a Blue Heeler and a Black Lab. He weighs about 90 pounds and it’s all muscle. He needs to be walked a few times each day. I don’t mind the “interruption”, but the challenge is that he is aggressive with other animals when he is on his leash. Not because he’s an alpha male. It’s because he is afraid. I know this because when he is off his leash and around other dogs he is fine. In fact, he lays down and surrenders his power a lot. He is kind of a wimp, but his bark/growl makes him kind of scary if you don’t know him.
One of my commitments in life is to be in the moment. By this I mean I need to be mindful, alert, and ardent. I actually work on this daily. When I walk my dog, I’ve learned that he has this little mumble/growl when he is smelling or seeing what he feels is dangerous. The hair on his back raises. Literally. I am really alert when this happens, because I need to be able to control the situation. Except for yesterday.
My head is in the clouds when I get on a creative kick. Yesterday was one of those days. I was thinking about a million other things and not really paying attention to my dog. When we walked out of the complex, I saw two dogs on a trail about a quarter of a mile away. I was thinking through a scenario of meeting these dogs on the way back into the building. I was not, however, paying attention to the patio of the condo that we walk by every time.
The people that live in that condo are very nice people and they normally are very good to my dog. He is usually very friendly to them as well, but not this time. I was looking away and Bo jumped up on their bushes to bark at their two cats. I was able to calm him quickly, and I apologized to the lady sitting on the patio. She graciously accepted and on we went.
The real breakdown for me was when I returned to the building and for some reason, walked right back past the cats on the patio. Bo let out another low growl and scared the cats. The lady reacted by asking me, in a stern voice, to walk him further away. I said “sure” and pulled him away.
I felt a slight bit of anger for the way she spoke to me. Perhaps a little indignation. But as I evaluated my feelings, I realized it was my mistake, not hers. She was upset and probably a little frightened. Bo has that scary low growl. I was not aware, or I would have walked him away from them. My feeling/response was driven by past experiences that put the blame on others. I had to understand that it was my negligence that caused the situation. It was my fault that I was oblivious to what I was doing when I walked back to the building.
My life commitment is to develop internal qualities of heart and mind, and help others with the same. I want to be the person who doesn’t just wander through a wasted life, who just reacts versus thinking. I failed in this case, but I learned from it and I evaluated my feelings and understood why and how I can improve.
In business I’ve had the same feelings. Early in my career, I took a delay or a no, very personally and I would get angry. It really didn’t do anything for me but cause more stress. No value came from that. It only made things worse. As I learned to evaluate the real reasons why there were delays, or no’s, then I became more focused on working on the next opportunity, not stressing over situations that I couldn’t affect. I became more proactive in thinking my way through challenges and not holding on to them.
I’m not perfect, as I proved with something as simple of walking my dog. But I’m continuing to work on it daily. I journal my skillful and unskillful actions to determine patterns that I can see and feel. I’m still learning.