I just had the remarkable experience of taking two of my grandsons, ages 3 and 5, to see the movie “A Dog’s Purpose.” The film is ecstasy for dog lovers! It shows the love and connection people feel with their dogs – no matter what breed, shape or size.
Dogs are there for you. They watch, they interpret, and they react. They try to help in the best way they know how.
That’s a little like a great spouse, a great friend, or even a great employee.
Here’s how you can use the lessons from this powerful story to enhance your life:
- Watch. The kids were great, they really were. But, the 5-year-old kept asking, “Why did he do that?” I explained a few times, then finally said, “Just watch the story.” As adults, we always want to know why. We want answers now. A great practice is just to keep watching. Notice the body language of your boss or coworker. See the expression on your client’s face. Pay attention to the agenda and the list of attendees. See the actions of those around you. Understand that you are part of a “pack” at work. You have a place, and that place can change, for better or worse. Keep watching the story unfolding before you so that you’ll be ready before the layoffs, or the hiring freeze, the merger, or the reorganization.
- Interpret. Most of us wish office politics would go away. Yet, any group of human beings will establish a political system. You can see it with toddlers, or on the playground of a day care center. Some people “refuse to participate” and make themselves unconscious to the actions of management, clients, customers and coworkers. Yet, it’s the interpretation of events that puts you in the category of the “wise.” Hey, you know if you are excluded from a meeting you used to attend that this action has a meaning. Don’t be blind to these signals. It’s great to have a mentor outside your system who can help you interpret what is happening. That’s why it’s so important to keep networking outside your company.
- React. Dogs stand at the ready when they sense danger or smell fear. They cock their ears, listen harder and react. In a workplace system, your reaction might be to quietly update your resume and up-level your networking efforts. You can even turn on “I am open to new opportunities” in LinkedIn that only recruiters from outside your company can see. There are lots of ways to take care of your future. Perhaps it’s making a tough phone call to a client. It might be making an apology or having a one-on-one with your boss’s boss. When you feel or sense a threat, react.
- Try to help in the best way you know how. Your boss, right now, has a problem that seems unsolvable. Your boss’s boss has a project he/she doesn’t know where to delegate. Catching the signals of these business “gaps” means that you are watching and interpreting. Sometimes, the best way to promote yourself is to offer help when you see the need. One of my clients offered help to her boss’ boss, and is now doing a project that gets her wider visibility in the organization. The new information she is learning will likely take her career to the next level.
In the movie, the dogs often get this step wrong. But, they are dogs. You’re much smarter than that. And, you can seek help from a mentor or coach.
I’m here for you,