Gearing up for the daily grind can be a dog’s life. If you’re not careful it can really get you down on your job. It’ll make your whole week feel like Monday morning before you have that first cup of glorious, mind-clearing java. One way to keep your spirits up is to take some life and career lessons from your K-9 pal.
- Stretch yourself daily: Lao Tzu said, "ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretch her fingers to touch the heavens." You don’t have to be a yoga teacher to understand what “downward facing dog” means. All dogs stretch themselves, and you’d be the better for it as well. Don’t stick to the usual hum-drum activities you know you can do. Expand your horizons and capacities. It’ll not only make you more valuable in the long haul, it just might help you further enjoy the task at hand.
- Go find the food you love: Most dogs find their way into the kitchen when beef, bacon, or some other delectable treat is being made. Do you know what fulfills you in your job? Don’t be ashamed to delight yourself in those things that remind you why you took the job in the first place. If it’s the people you enjoy, don’t feel guilty when you take some time out of the workday to say hi. Maybe it was the pay upgrade that brought you here — remind yourself what you used to make, and pull out your new pay stub, thinking of the things you can now do with that extra cash.
- Let people know when you’re happy-and unhappy: You always know if a dog is pleased or angry. Be the kind of professional that’s confident enough to politely communicate your thoughts and feelings. When something makes you happy, articulate it. This will make people want to do it again. If a line or boundary has been crossed, feel free to bare your teeth and growl at your co-worker- I doubt they’ll do it again.
- Be loyal: As Mark Twain put it, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but at least be loyal. Some people you’re willing to tolerate during the workday, while others you’d be willing to go the extra mile for. The difference? Loyalty. If you’re loyal to someone chances are that they’ll be compelled to return the favor. What goes around comes around. On that note…
- Don’t crap where you sleep: If you must talk about people from work, don’t do it with co-workers. Your co-worker will eventually find out, and you’ll look like a 7 grade gossip girl. Be loyal, and even to the people you don’t see eye to eye with, at least show some class by working out your differences face to face. You might even win them over with your candor.
- Chase something: Are you chasing something other than your current job? Go get it! When you become too content with your current job or status, you’ll slowly become that stagnant, lethargic employee no one wants to be around. Dogs sniff around for squirrels to chase down, and while that usually ends with an anticlimactic barking up a tree, the simple thrill of the chase brings them joy. Are you actively looking for new challenges? Make goals that are bigger than you; aspirations that are higher than you can stretch to now. Just make sure it’s not your tail you’re chasing. The thrill of the chase may be worth it by itself, but it’s always nice to have a shiny reward waiting at the end of the hunt.
- Choose your best friends wisely: Dogs are the human’s best friend for a reason. They’re smart. Unlike most animals, they know how to get the best things in life — belly rubs, long naps, cars to chase, treats, a roof over the head, etc — they earn the best lifestyle an animal can ask for by befriending the most resourceful creatures on the planet; humans. Do you know who to associate with? Be willing to let others train and equip you. Having a mentor is a sign of intelligence and wisdom, not weakness. If someone has a skill or level of productivity that you want, then go spend time with them. They may not want to rub your belly in exchange for their expertise, but you’re sure to gain some valuable knowledge that can advance your career to the next level.
Andy Rooney once said “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person is”, and that may be the most important lesson we can glean from our furry friends. Play nice; be fair, loyal, honest, kind. That’s what dogs do, and it can help you get the most out of your workday and your career as a whole.
Call it karma, call it doing to others what you would have them do to you, or call it the law of reciprocity — regardless, the outcome is the same. We learned many of these lessons as toddlers playing in the sandbox — that is to say, it’s so simple a dog can do it. But the results are astronomical.