Monday, March 13, 2017

The Focus of a Dog

We often laugh at the inability of a dog to focus.  I was able to observe this, recently, while walking the dogs.  Our older dog, Lucy Lou, happily walked alongside me.  We were having a nice conversation when she politely excused herself, sniffed around and then did her business.  Sadie, who was originally my Mother-in-law’s dog, just turned three and is like the Beatles song, “Here, There and Everywhere.”  She trots ahead on the grass, head slightly lowered, which means she is prepping herself…then she hears something, smells something, sees something (real or imaginary) and instantly forgets why she is outside.  Lucy Lou gets distracted, generally speaking, when another dog nears us. 

Watching the two of them moving about their environment, I began to see traits, which to me, seem completely human.  People that are younger, or new to some aspect of their lives, are truly like Sadie.  I am not referring to the need for someone to walk them.  More so, the traits related to being curious, being hyperactive, easily excited and trying to do many things at the same time.  Young children definitely react in this fashion.  When our girls were little, I remember Debbie going shopping and buying much-needed socks for them.  She carefully put the socks in a box and we figured that for the child opening the gift they would be excited at having to pull out the many items.  When it came time to open the gift, the socks went flying out and the box became the toy that they were excited about.  That is, until the next gift, or a morsel of food came drifting into view.  In the workplace, the same goes as you see the eager, young faces running around, happy to jump in and help.  I remember one fellow that was so excited to get involved in ALL applications the group was working in (not possible unless one wanted their head to explode).

As for the Lucy Lou traits, which tend to be found in people with experience, or, how can I put this delicately, those that are more mature.  I am at the point in my life, where I tend to think that I fall into this category (mature? Age-wise, but always action-wise…just ask my daughters).  Instead of running around, distracted by whatever comes dancing or floating in front, this group has a bit more focus.  They tend to pick some path to follow, changes course when it meets the need, takes care of their business and keeps on track.  People of high success tend to focus on no more than three priorities at any one point in time.  When I was younger, had more energy, and was in a more Sadie-phase, I remember looking at the “older,” Lucy Lou-phased employees that I worked for and wondered why they did not go out for the lunch plus beers, or after work outings…they were more deliberate and focused in their actions.

There is the old tale of two bulls on a hill overlooking the herd.  The young one, all excited, says, “Let’s run down the hill and be with one of the cows.”  Where upon the elder bull calmly says, “Let’s walk down the hill and be with them all.”  OK, this old story is slightly sexist, but it makes the point.  We can live in the Sadie-phase, and run helter skelter trying to accomplish many things; or, in the Lucy Lou-phase and move deliberately and with conviction to fully accomplish (aka, succeed) in a few.  After all, as I concluded my walk, I realized that I guess we can learn new tricks from old dogs.

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