Friday, July 2, 2010

Drama Or Empowerment

Lots of people on Facebook are talking about the "drama" at some of the trials they've been to recently. Drama can show it's face in many different ways. But here is an article by Jack Canfield that really sums it up for me. This was posted on Marlene Chism's "Stop Your Drama" blog.  Click here to go to the link to the blog entry.

Who is responsible for your success at the trials (whether it be obedience, agility, herding, etc)? Well it is absolutely - 100% yours. I can't think of anything that could happen during a performance or related to a performance that wouldn't be your fault - either as a trainer, as a handler, or because of your own mental state.

It's when the failures at the trials are very disappointing or frustrating, that excuses and complaints can start to creep up and get in the way of making progress. "Someone distracted me.", "I didn't have time to walk the course.", "The steward took another dog out of order when I was ready.", "The judge made a terrible call or The judge was inconsistent with the scoring.", "The set out of the sheep was terrible on my run'.", "The sheep were too difficult to work.", "The judge ran us into the gate.", "The course was too difficult", etc.

These external factors are not the source of any issues that you had with your performance at the trial. The source of the problem is you and your own attitude. Sometimes you are extremely disappointed and embarrassed and it's just much easier to blame the dog, the judge, the equipment, the workers, the club members, etc than to take the ultimate responsibility and fix your own attitude. Yes, those external factors might have contributed to "the drama", but it was you that scripted it, cast it, selected the audience, and opened it up to the public.

There is ALWAYS a better way to look at something that is making you feel poorly or uncomfortable. The main thing to remember is that you can't change what happened. And trying to convince people that you were not successful because of outside circumstances is not going to make you feel any better or do anything to make a positive change. In fact, if you are really honest with yourself, it will actually make you feel worse as you gave it more energy and focus. Instead of doing that, make peace with it. Find a way to look at it differently. Let it inspire you to make changes. Take a step back and be honest with yourself. You don't need excuses when you are talking openly and honestly with yourself.

We are doing this mostly as a hobby - for fun and enjoyment. The dog's performance is just a reflection of our mental state of mind or our focus - good or bad. If you are complaining, justifying or making excuses, then there is a good chance that things will go wrong again and again. And, because you expect things to go wrong, you will continue down that uncomfortable path. That is because you have put too much focus on what is wrong and what can go wrong and why it usually goes wrong. As Jack Canfield says, "Blaming only ties up your energy".

However, if you are empowered by failures or unexpected performances or situations, then chances are much better that things will improve. Even if your performance takes a while to improve, if you don't lose sight of that inspiration to make changes, you will eventually improve...little by little. Many of the most successful people in this country have overcome greater obstacles that have repeated over and over and over again. They continued to remain empowered and focused on what they wanted and eventually they achieved it. One of my favorite videos is one of the Michael Jordan Nike commercials - for those of you that have been reading my blogs for awhile, you have probably already seen this - but if you haven't, you can click here.

What I have also found that helps my mental focus is surrounding myself with positive people - both at trials and away from trials.

So, I'll end this by quoting the Jack Canfield because he sums it up better than I could ever do:


"Believe, Believe, Believe! Have unwavering faith in yourself, for good and bad. Make the decision to accept the fact that you create all your experiences. You will experience successes thanks to you, and you will experience pain, struggle, and strife thanks to you. Sounds a little strange, but accepting this level of responsibility is uniquely empowering. It means you can do, change, and be anything. Stumbling blocks become just that—little hills to hop over.

"Take no less than 100% responsibility. Successful people take full responsibility for the thoughts they think, the images they visualize, and the actions they take. They don’t waste their time and energy blaming and complaining. They evaluate their experiences and decide if they need to change them or not. They face the uncomfortable and take risks in order to create the life they want to live.

"Stop complaining. Look at what you are complaining about. ...Really examine your complaints. More than likely you can do something about them. They are not about other people, other things, or other events. They are about YOU.

"Make an immediate change. Are you unhappy about something that is happening right now? Make requests that will make it more desirable to you, or take the steps to change it yourself. Making a change might be uncomfortable for you. It might mean you have to put in more time, money, and effort. It might mean that someone gets upset about it, or makes you feel bad about your decision. It might be difficult to change or leave a situation, but staying put is your choice so why continue to complain?

You can either do something about it or not. It is your choice and you have responsibility for your choices.

"Pay attention. Looking to others for help and guidance is helpful, but don’t forget to stay tuned in to yourself—your behavior, attitude, and life experiences. Identify what’s working and what isn't. If you need to, write it all down. Then…

"Face the truth and take action for the long term. You have to be willing to change your behavior if you want a different outcome. You have to be willing to take the risks necessary to get what you want. If you’ve already taken an initial step in the right direction, now’s the time to plan additional steps to keep moving you forward, faster.

"Isn't it a great relief to know that you can make your life what you want it to be? Isn’t it wonderful that your successes do not depend on someone else?

"So if you need just one thing to do different today than you did yesterday, make it this:

"Commit to taking 100% responsibility for every aspect of your life. Decide to make changes, one step at a time. Once you start the process you’ll discover it’s much easier to get what you want by taking control of your thoughts, your visualizations, and your actions!"


  1. I was at a GD seminar a few years back, working with Laura doing double box work. A gal's dog turned the wrong way, despite the fact that gal handled it correctly. The gal turned and looked at Laura and said "that was her fault, right?"

    Laura said, "your handling was correct, and the dog took the wrong jump - but you trained her so its still your fault." She said it very lightly and kindly, but that made an impression with me.

    Its always us, its never them. Practicing what I would refer to as good sportsmanship and owning up to what really went wrong gives you the power to change it next time. Blaming external forces makes you the victim. What's good about that??

    Great post.

  2. I love this! And it is so very very true. At times anyone can get caught up in this frame of mind, and friends can also keep you there :) Taking responsibility for your training is HUGE. Makes agility a lot more fun. Because YOU control what happens, not the weather, the people, the judge etc. Great great post!

  3. One of the best things about getting a Hob Nob dog was getting to know you Nancy. You are a huge inspiration to me not only in your dog training but your insight and attitude about life in general.

    Excellent post.


  4. Thanks everyone...Venita, that is such a sweet thing to say. However, we do have the best role models for life living right amongst us - our dogs. They have figured this all out already and have made it their life.

  5. Thanks for this thought provoking post, Nancy. I just purchased a bookmark with a saying most all have probably heard: "To err is human, to forgive, canine." I hope to be as forgiving of myself for my goof-ups as my dog is! I wouldn't have lasted in agility without the model of his sense of humor and enthusiasm.

  6. Just a PS to the above post... my funny, enthusiastic dog, who has run out of the ring on me (Yikes!), and has done his business in the tunnel (not the right kind... quite a guilty look on his face in the professional photo!), Q'd 5 for 5 at this weekend's trial. I am so grateful I've hung in there and continue to play this wonderful sport with him!