Archive for August, 2010

I came across an article in USA Today entitled, Chasing Dreams of Doggy Stardom. It was an interesting look into what it takes for a dog to make it in Hollywood. And it’s not what you might think!

The focus was on veteran Hollywood trainer Mark Harden, who shared that the type of dog best-suited for on-screen work are those who make the most challenging pets.

“Your obedient King Charles Cavalier, who sits on command and never shreds a shoe, would most likely be best-suited for cuddling, not cutting up on camera.”

Harden stated he gets as many of his dogs as possible from shelters, looking for intelligent animals with “winner” mentalities who have been abandoned for being too spirited and generally unmanageable. They have a relentless tenacity that many two-legged individuals can’t stomach, but works on-screen.

A lot of these dogs wouldn’t work in a lot of people’s homes,” Harden says.

Not that it’s the dog’s fault. But something in their upbringing has made them a failed pet. Every day, they’ve won. They’ve succeeded in barking like crazy when they want, eating dirt when they want, ruining furniture. Whatever their misbehavior, they think they’re successful.

Of course, it ends them up in the pound, but they think they’re winners, and those are the dogs we like to get.”

I don’t know about your life story, but mine has a chapter or two where folks told me I didn’t belong in their house, and abandoned me at the “pound.”

Not one to sit quietly and cuddle on a lap, I was labeled “too much this” or “not enough that.” In my attempt to destroy bad practices, dig-up disrespectful behavior, or “bark” at unethical actions, I was deemed too spirited and unmanageable.

No matter. I would rather be a star than a pet any day.

And just recently I was reminded of how easy it is for leaders to abandon people on their teams who won’t sit quietly and do as they’re told. Instead of making an effort to harness the creative energy and develop potential, they drop the challenging ones off at the pound. (Either literally or figuratively.)

These leaders aren’t looking for stars; they’re looking for lap dogs.

Where are the leaders who are willing to transform pound puppies into valuable jewels and create teams that change the world?

Maybe it’s just too hard.  After all, it takes an investment of consistency, commitment, confidence, patience, and communication to reveal potential and uncover possibility.

It takes a star to recognize a star. And maybe that’s the problem. Many of today’s leaders aren’t stars — they’re so busy cuddling on the laps of their owners they fail to appreciate the star potential in others.

To share Apple’s well-known ad:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels.
The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things. They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

If this story were to have a moral it would be this: Even if you find yourself abandoned at the pound, you’re still a winner. Dream the dreams. Take the risk. Live the life!

Whatever you are, be a crazy one — be a star!


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Don’t look back, they might be gaining on you.
~ Unknown

I was watching a news report recently about the U.S. Transplant Games.  For those who may not know, Transplant Games are open to anyone whose most recent lifesaving solid organ transplant— heart, liver, kidney, lung, pancreas and/or heterologous bone marrow— has been functioning for at least 6 months.

It was an inspiring tale of courage and staunch determination as images of racing athletes flashed across the television screen. What made the story even more compelling was that the only reason these games are even in existence is because a fellow human being was willing to literally donate a portion of themselves to benefit another.

Puts that $5 donation I made to the March of Dimes in perspective!

And although it was a wonderful report, it was the final few frames of the video that caught my eye.  In it, a small girl — perhaps 3 or 4 — was running on the track between events.

As young children like to do, the girl kept looking behind her as she ran, to see what was going on back there . . . who was watching her . . . who was gaining on her. (There were no other runners on camera so I’m not certain she was actually competing with anyone.)

The small runner tumbled a bit, and may have actually crossed the finish line, but would never have realized it because she wasn’t interested in where she was going. Her focus was on what was behind her.

There were some valuable life lessons in this short video clip.  Too often, we’re unimpressed in our own future. Unless someone else is following our progress or interested in our path, the journey looses its allure. Why is that?

Why are we fearful to travel our own path without approval.  Why does our life only have meaning if someone else says it does?

Why do we keep looking behind us?

What good does that serve?

Your life is not meant to be lived in competition with others. It was designed with you — your happiness, your satisfaction, your generosity, your gratitude — in mind.

Life won’t grade you on a curve, dependent on where the other guy placed.

Life doesn’t matter who is behind you or in front of you.  If they’re gaining on you or falling behind.

Who cares what is going on back there — behind you.

Run your own race. Set your own pace. The key to a fulfilling life, according to Ann Landers, is to “look ahead, that is where your future lies.”

Whatever you are, don’t look back!


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Late last month, “Jungle” Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, encountered a family of grizzly bears while hiking in Glacier National Park.

You may have seen Jack on The Late Show with David Letterman where he regularly visits and brings along a menagerie of exotic and dangerous animals. Or, perhaps, caught Jack’s appearance on an educational program as he humorously shares the wonders of our planet.  Regardless, Jack lives, breathes, and sleeps animals. They are his passion, his mission.

But stumbling upon a family of wild bears is another matter entirely. Without a script or camera crew, interns or producers, this wasn’t your typical walk in the park. It was survival of the fittest.

One of the 125 pound cubs started charging toward him and a group of hikers, and then, Jack said,  everything happened so fast.

Just like the insurance commercial proclaims, it’s true that life comes at you fast!

Fortunately, Jack was able to fend off the attack with a few well-timed blasts of pepper spray.  The experience shook him up a bit — although he has carried the spray for more than 15 years, it was the first time in his career he ever needed to use the deterrent.

When asked by a reporter for advice he would give to other hikers finding themselves in similar circumstances, Jack replied, “Don’t be afraid. Be prepared.”

Wonderful advice for all of us — whatever our own brand of “angry bear family” looks like. The time to wonder if you’ll be able to handle the unexpected is not at the moment of confrontation — when your life, future, and dreams are on the line.

The time of preparation occurs in the hours, days, weeks, and months when you’re practicing and packing and plodding along.

No lights. No cameras. No cheers or accolades.
Just a relentless pursuit of the goal.

So that when the time comes — and trust me, it will,
when you round the corner on the trail and meet the angry bears,
when life calls upon you to prove your mettle,
you’ll be able to spring into action — instead of recoil in fear.

Don’t wait for tomorrow — the time to prepare is now. Otherwise, as Benjamin Franklin said,

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Whatever you are, be prepared!


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