Saturday, February 26, 2011

Appreciation and Allowing

Score - I appreciate and love his effort
"Image by GreatDanePhotos Copyright 2010
( used with permission"
I've been thinking about this topic for a while, but Stacy Peardot-Goudy's recent blog entry on just saying "Thank you" really prompted me to finish my thoughts in writing. If you get a chance, read her blog as a background by clicking here.

It's true that plenty of people have difficulty accepting compliments. It's human nature to put ourselves down for various reasons - especially when someone we respect tells us that we just did something wonderful (could it be true?). Many times coming out of the ring, we tend to reflect only on the disappointment of not getting the almighty qualifying score, when there are just so many other small successes (even HUGE successes) that need to be recognized out on the course or in the run. Because it tends to be human nature to reflect on the negativity and failures, many times it can be difficult to really see those small successes. This is precisely why I highly recommend getting all of your runs (obedience, herding, agility) on video tape. Yes, it is an inconvenience at times, but if you are diligent about looking at all aspects of your run - not just the fact that something happened that you did not like - you will continue to grow as a handler as well as a person. It can take some effort and some training to try and find something good in a run that feels like a failure to you, but it's all about progress. And part of the progress is trying to find the successes as well as the "homework" in each and every run.

Everyone - even the best trainers/handlers like Terry Smorch and Stacy Goudy go home with more homework. Even in the qualifying performances, they will find personal successes as well as homework and ways to improve performance. They are inspired by homework - not deflated or feeling like failures because of it. You see rare times when they have a major failure, but when it happens they push past it and realize the lesson or another opportunity to improve. Failure or mistakes should inspire you, not make you crazy or upset.

But this isn't the reason why I am writing this - Stacy covered this topic, quite well. I just want to take the subject of accepting a compliment a little further and coming from the opposite side. Giving compliments and/or appreciation of others.

Reason - I appreciating being able to run him at 11 years of age
"Image by GreatDanePhotos Copyright 2010
( used with permission"
There are plenty of people that I highly respect as trainers and handlers - like Stacy and Terry. They set an example as high caliber trainers and exhibitors in more ways than others - not just because they are on top of their game, but also because of the way they treat other people. When either of them sees a performance or even something within a run that is spectacular, they will both make an effort to tell that individual (stranger or friend/peer) that they loved what they saw. To me, appreciation and giving compliments is just as important (if not more important) than accepting compliments. That is because it comes from within...and when you appreciate or love something, it makes you feel better and you become a better person for it. There are a few high caliber trainers that only give compliments to their students (or people attending their seminars) or to their peers. I'm not sure why that is, but whatever the reason, it is a self limiting behavior and only holds them back. I think one of the most liberating behaviors is getting into the mode of appreciating and "allowing" others to do things differently.

Whether or not the person accepts the compliment is actually their own personal issue that they have to work through (been there myself at one time). Finding fault or taking something personal because an individual chooses differently than what you would is inhibiting. Sometimes people need to make a few mistakes in order to get to a place in their life where they can actually see the benefit of what someone else might be telling them. Or who's to say that maybe that person is just comfortable doing things their way and it just feels right to them. It's more important for people to feel good about what they are doing, than to be convinced to change. And it's up to us as individuals to find a way to feel good - rather than relying on compliments or support from others.

It is far better to have different training and handling styles and methods so as to enjoy diversity and motivate change. Observing handlers and trainers doing things differently can be inspiring and can allow new ideas to be recognized and realized. At one time no one trained or wanted to train running contacts and there were many good reasons stated by some of the best trainers in this country. That didn't stop a few people who were inspired and motivated within and decided to do things differently by taking a different journey. They were willing to make mistakes along the way and adapted and set forth changes because of those failures. Now, seeing a gorgeous running dog walk is a thing of beauty, when it is trained and handled properly. All because someone appreciated and loved something and was focused on doing what felt right to them - even amongst any and all criticisms from the standpoint of consistency in handling and training it.

Schema - I love and appreciating her amazing contacts
(photo by Kim Schaefer)
Whenever I start to feel upset about something, I will try find some kind of way to appreciate - anything. Even by looking or focusing on something completely different than what was causing me to become upset. Focusing on appreciating my dogs, my friends, my peers, the sunshine - whatever makes me happy or changes the way I am currently feeling. There is always a different way of looking at things and when I try to focus on some small change to make me feel happy, the negative feelings go away and my world changes with it.