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: