Lessons learned from the newest member of the family, Gus!

Just yesterday morning, while out for our morning walk, I realized that so many of my work-life realities are mirrored in my daily experiences with Gus.

Surround yourself with the people that support you.

To do our best work we need to feel grounded, with folks who understand us, and who will also challenge us in ways that make us grow.

Eat right and make time for play.

It’s basic, yet how often do we overlook our physical, mental, and emotional well-being? How can we make the habit/the time to eat in ways which nourish us (take a break at lunch, eat food that is good for us), get enough sleep and exercise, engage in experiences and interactions that stimulate us to learn and grow, and be kind to ourselves?

Take care of your toys, and they will take care of you!

Our tools and resources enable us to create in the world. Making sure that we give them the attention they need is critical to our work.

 

Be curious, explore the territory. Some things need a quick sniff and others need a thorough investigation!

The world is full of so many opportunities, yet we can’t do them all… What’s your method for deciding your priorities? How often do you check-in to see if you’re feeling in harmony with/living your values?

Set up limits and boundaries, then protect them.

Limits are what we create for ourselves—we’ll go this far and no further. Boundaries keep others out. Standing firm and yet not rigid is both an art and a science.

Make your feelings and needs known to others.

Get clear about what you’re feeling. Even if we don’t acknowledge our feelings, they’re there, right inside our bodies. Lack of awareness and attention to what we are feeling and/or lack of skill in discerning what we really need can lead to misunderstandings and disturbances (or worse) in our personal and work relationships.

When you’re not feeling great, step away for a short while or find the tasks that you can do easily.

We all have days when we’re not feeling good. We can work to discern the level of care we need to shower on ourselves… Sometimes it’s stepping back from work, other times, it’s finding simpler tasks or less demanding work.

 

Plan for challenges and yet be present to the reality (which may turn out just fine).

We experienced this last week with Gus—it was his first trip to the vet with us (his third family), and let’s just say that he’s still working on his social skills with strangers. We planned for the worst—talking with the veterinary practice in advance, putting a harness on him, and deciding our approach to the front desk, and the waiting room with so many people and animals of all kinds! We took a deep breath and walked through the front door—and he was perfectly well-behaved the whole time!

We planned, we prepared, we went in with “beginner’s mind,” and had a great experience.

How often do we go in expecting, and then precipitating the worst?

Celebrate your successes. Learn from your mistakes.

When is the last time you paused, much less savored work (a conversation, meeting or project) well done?

I can tell you that once a project is done, I check it off my list and move on to what’s next. I do better when I’m training folks, as I make the time to review and reflect on the feedback forms completed at the end of the session. I LOVE that time… I need to do more of that, how about you?

Work to change habits that don’t serve you.

Wow, I feel like Sisyphus here, continuously pushing that boulder up the hill… I have some pretty stubborn habits—that have served me rather well over time. Yet, it’s time to let go! I am making progress by reading books, ingraining new habits, getting help from my circle of supportive colleagues and friends.

Our habits are EVERYWHERE!  This is a long-term project that’s tough AND rewarding.

Reward yourself for doing the right thing.

While this piece of wise advice from Gus* is related to others, I believe that it stands alone too. How do you reward yourself? Rewards can come in so many different packages! My rewards include a walk in the afternoon, exploring a new course or connection with someone or a group that interests me, and planning for breakfast with a colleague. Some of my rewards are planned in advance (when I know the week looks challenging) and others are spontaneous.

Can you name half a dozen ways you reward yourself?

* He loves his “high value” treats when he does an especially challenging task.

Find a place that makes you feel safe and hang out there when you need to.

Take good care of yourself. Sometimes we need to literally step away from interactions or experiences, other times, we just need to be quiet and come back to ourselves. In other instances, we need to reach out for refuge in our relationships with people who understand and care about us.

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