[February 23, 2017] I own a dog. In the United States, more than a third of all families own at least one dog; the most common household pet.1 Whether you’ve ever had one or not, it’s unsurprising that anyone can learn good things from them. For example, leaders can also learn from a dog (see my earlier post on this here).
We know that dogs are loyal, don’t hold grudges, are protectors, and help us stay healthy. These are traits that leaders also exhibit to others; to people as well as to animals. While leadership means many different things, the most important trait for any leader is “caring.” And caring is crucial for leaders because it is a prime motivator for them to be great at what they do.
Caring, however, can have a downside. There are many examples of infamous and evil leaders who cared about their people but lead them down a path that lead to near destruction; Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Kim Il-sung were just a few that come immediately to mind. This is why being “good” (as to the opposite of evil) is so important to have as a character trait.
Dogs don’t just teach us about caring, they teach us also about what is good. For purposes here good describes what is noble and wholesome, while evil is wickedness, mean, and foul. Therefore, a person who is one that protects, guides, and nurtures others is also a person with good character.
Some of the good things we can learn from a dog:
- Relationships are about the heart, not the ego.
- Material things are not important.
- Your physical looks don’t matter; beauty or ugly is not relevant.
- Promises don’t count and talk is cheap; it’s what you do that matters.
- Companionship and unconditional caring.
- A positive attitude is contagious.
- Dependable; defend the pack, play with the pack, and stick with the pack.
- Enjoy the journey.
- Accept who you are.
- Live for the now; the future is unknown to us.
My dog is a female Yellow Labrador (shown in the blog’s thumbnail to this post). She is not the smartest dog I ever had or the best behaved, but she has helped me re-learn some of the things I’de forgotten that should be more important to me; like staying in touch with family and friends today, not at some future time.
If you’ve ever had a dog, you know what I mean.
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