Enduring business lessons from 4 canines.
You might be forgiven for not believing that any enduring business lesson can be learnt from four dogs. But that’s because you’ve never met my dogs, and you’ve never observed them. This is the parable of the dogs.
I have four interesting dogs. No, they are not tall, menacing and fearsome, though they must think they are judging from their behaviour. My dogs are Lhasa breed, and are more useful as biological decorative items than any pretensions at security. They are hairy, very hairy, tiny little things. Shave off the mane and they’re no bigger than sausages! They are hardly 6, 7 inches off the ground, long and beautiful to behold. They are things you cuddle and carry, and they love being stroked on the head.
They weren’t always four in number. In the beginning there were only two, and they were siblings. There was Brandy (I named him after brands) and there was Ideo (I named her after ideas. I work as a professional consultant on brands and ideas. You are free to accuse me of taking my professional calling too far but what is life if you have no passion for what you do?)
When I acquired Brandy and Ideo they were puppies and could hardly stand. They didn’t appreciate heights and had no understanding of fear. They were cute and small.
On reflection I realise they are no different from humans, or small businesses. When we are small, young and clueless, we tend to be fearless, full of faith and belief, with no understanding of ‘impossible.’ As we grow older and bigger, fear creeps into our life experience, stymieing our achievements and cowing us into underdogs. Some become totally regulated by fear. They live the totality of their lives with a ‘C-Caution’ sign hanging on their neck, weighing them down. They always see negative possibilities and when things are going their way they become wary, looking out for danger. They always expect trouble and invariably they get trouble because they are exercising negative faith. When the troubles come, they only serve to reinforce their belief in their wariness. Their faith becomes a self-fulfilling and self- propagating prophecy. They are trapped in the negative.
And then there are those who have a fear of success. They fear being promoted in life, moving to the next level. They are terrified of aspiration and will rather stay where they are. In other words, they are afraid of heights. They will rather remain small than take a chance at growth. They are over-cautious. They give excuses and continue to justify where they are. They will never take chances. Their location is a comfort zone of lack of aspiration. Only Life can force them on. Yet life is a dynamic. We must keep moving on, we must keep progressing, or else we become relics of history. We subject ourselves to insignificance when we are afraid of success.
Perhaps the worst of the fears is fear of venture, when we’re afraid of starting out. We keep waiting for the perfect condition, the perfect timing, forgetting the age-old wisdom that the man who waits for perfect conditions never gets anything done. If we never start we won’t start.