Let’s talk about credit.
This post came up because a fabulous client of mine was recounting how she’d heard a handler she didn’t know announcing how she was withholding treats from her dog because they hadn’t done great on course. My client said she had badly wanted to talk to this woman and help her be kinder to her dog (and, let’s be honest, to herself) but she didn’t know the woman so felt she lacked the permission to critique this woman.
So whether you’re a dog sport person or not, here are a few principles that I think this attitude speaks to. Of course it’s not all-encompassing, but I just want to throw a few thoughts out there about giving credit and when it might be due.
- To yourself – and your dog (if you’re competing with them)
You are putting in effort. SO WHAT if you’re not perfect, you’re human, perfection is a myth. Read the small print, being human comes with flaws. It’s actually how we learn. So GIVE YOURSELF credit for your efforts and progress. Otherwise you are on a fast-track to loss of motivation and burn out.
If you compete with a dog, please reward them. Even if you didn’t do the course that the judge intended, your dog was probably responding to you, so please honour their efforts, regardless of the scoresheet.
And so what if they got an off-course because you flung out a rogue hand and sent them off? Your dog was still doing what you communicated and you were still working as a team. Great stuff. The imperfection was yours. Congratulations, you just proved you’re human. That’s ALL you did. Now go get ’em next time.
Another HUGE point in this: your dog is not a machine. Just as you are likely to make mistakes- or you will if you’re trying hard and pushing yourself- so too, your dog will make mistakes. They are not a machine!
The big take-away from this section?
You are human and your dog is not a machine.
2. To others
If you want more credit, give more credit. If someone’s helped you, tell others about them. Give them credit for how they’ve helped you. Publicly. With recommendations and endorsements. With shares of their stuff. Don’t hoard them!
It does NOT diminish you to lift others up. And if you want lifted up yourself, make sure you’re lifting others up. We tend to get what we give, and people will ‘catch’ the behaviours we model, so if you want credit, GIVE IT.
3. Those around you
This includes your rivals. Those people you don’t like very much even, but who can be treated with respect for the good they do. In competition terms, this might mean that you work to applaud the great run someone has, even when they kicked your butt. Why? Because it’s irrelevant to you and what you do. It’s what they did, that’s all. And next time, you’ll aim to go out there and kick THEIR butt. Nothing personal. Because, if you’re that good, you can afford to be nice. Because if your ability to be successful is predicated (in reality or your imagination) in your ability to psych others out, you’ll deep down never know how good you were without playing silly beggars. Because after all is said and done WHO you become is more important than your results.
In a less challenging fashion, perhaps, look for those coming along behind you who you can encourage and lift up. Pay attention to how well you do that and the effects it can have on others’ confidence to find themselves encouraged or supported by someone further along than them…
…now go back and apply that same generosity of encouragement to yourself. Give yourself credit.
You may not be where you want to be, but you’re not where you were.
Here’s to celebrating each step of the journey!
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