Is your life STAY or FETCH?
While primarily a people coach I found out, when I got a puppy, that animals can teach us a thing or two about coaching. Animals live in the now, they have a present but are not too worried about the past or future.
This limits their possibilities – you won’t find a dog Mozart. But dogs have the advantage of not worrying about their appearance, life skills or career progression.
My canine office security team (Ok, it’s a home office, they are pets) have given me some insights into the coaching of change.
Recently I was pacing around the office, telling myself off for something and by that I mean I was actually talking to myself. The dogs, normally comatose in office hours, were suddenly alert. They went into submissive dog posture.
If you have a dog you’ll know what I mean. That slinking on the floor, wounded puppy dog eyes, a tentative tail waggle. They’re not sure if they’ve done anything wrong but if they have they’re sorry.
I realised that, in dog world, no sane pooch would get cross with itself.
So when they saw me and heard my voice they knew I was angry and it had to be with them. In their eyes, no sane person would be cross with themselves. So they went into craven posture.
And it worked, because when I saw them I realised how pointless my irritation was:
- It wouldn’t change anything
- It would be more productive to focus on the future and ask ‘What will I do next?’ than on the past.
- It was scaring the dog.
And I wondered how often our internal chatter is focused on the past when it distracts us without achieving anything.
Often my clients have the choice of stay or fetch. You can stay as you are and this is far more likely if you are focused on the past and you say ‘Why did I?’ or ‘I shouldn’t have’. Self-talk is also distracting if, when you focus on the future, you are saying words like worry, must, ought, should, can’t.
Dogs, with their limited vocabulary (mine haven’t got much farther than supper, walkies and treat) and simple aspirations find the stay or fetch decision very easy. They will fetch if
a) they get reward at the end of it (playing with the ball or attention from their human) and b) the fetching is fun.
Which is a strategy that works with people too.
If you want to fetch yourself a great future you need to create for yourself a compelling, brilliant future, and you should have some fun while getting there.
Many people unconsciously see their choice as an all or nothing approach. They have fun now or they have a future.
But there are all sorts of possibilities out there and making your future an all or nothing choice is just that – a choice.
To find out more about expanding your choices contact me now!
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