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My dog is the leadership coach you didn’t know you needed

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

Like many others, my family decided to take the plunge and got ourselves a COVID-19 puppy late last year. We named him Bala, in honor of the town where we grew up cottaging a few hours north of Toronto.

Since day one, Bala has been an adorable, inspiring – and sometimes exhausting - addition to our home. He IS more – more effort, more time, more coordination, more frustration, more money.

But for me, and for us, more is better. Beyond his spunky, sweet, adorable temperament, Bala embodies many qualities that are incredibly powerful for - leaders especially. Here is what I’ve learned so far:

“Be Real….About what you need.”

Bala’s presence has revolutionized my workday – I am now compelled to leave my desk every few hours to take him for a walk, something I know is good for me but would have never done for myself! His bursts of energy every few hours requires me to proactively build in time between meetings for breaks – I can do longer commit to seven hours of zoom meetings back-to-back.

I initially changed the way that I work with his needs in mind. I would never have interrupted precious working hours to rest, but over the past few months, I have realized that it is what I need too. In the past I would push, drive, propel myself forward with ‘’productivity’’ always top of mind.

In fact, I was constantly asking my body to do unreasonable things, putting everything else– any deadline, or person’s requirement, or new action item – ahead of me and what I needed. Anything at all. Learning to ‘’sacrifice’’ to meet Bala’s needs, has helped me to see how important - how reasonable - own needs are.

Leadership Tip: Get up and move. Every time you let yourself go somewhere new, you gain a new perspective that could be a game changer on any opportunities or challenges that you face.

“Be Willing…for it to be great.”

From the moment he wakes up in the morning, Bala is excited. He wants to see people, he can’t wait to go for a walk, he’s excited to fetch and play – and even sleep – to be able to just do all the things that he has in his day.

His energy is infectious - His complete and utter joy when he is outside in the snow when it is -15 Celsius, or the dance he does when I top up his food dish – Bala is ready - never fearing it won’t be worth doing. The truth is, we don’t always want to host that team meeting, or participate in that introductory call, but how much better would it be if we at least allowed ourselves to think it could be great? Because sometimes it really is….

“Be Honest…about what your gut is telling you.”

When Bala senses something is wrong, he trusts it. Sometimes its super annoying and utterly confusing for the rest of us, as he growls angrily at a sign twisting in the wind, or unrelentingly digging towards a smell that unsettles him.

But Bala knows - and he trust himself enough to go with it. And because of that, I trust him too. I’ll let him drag me around the block because that deep knowledge within him is so strong, I believe he needs to follow it.

We all know more than we know. Inside each of us is a deep understanding of who people are, what their motivations are, how we feel about the work that we do, or the work that others do who work with us.

More and more I challenge myself to let go of all the rules, and just be. Be who I am and allow others to be how they are at the same time. It works out every.single.time.

I dare you to try it! Let me know how it goes.

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