When the Master Learns a New Trick

If you’ve ever tried to teach your dog a new trick, you appreciate that moment when Fido makes the connection and learns how to fetch the TV remote. Life gets a little easier. But did you know it works the other way too? Pets can tutor us on life. Here are some tricks our pets can teach us about running a business. 

Celebrate possibilities.

Most dogs get excited when there’s somebody at the front door. They run to see who it is only to find out it’s almost never for them. Yet that never dampens their enthusiasm. Each time, they rejoice at the possibility of who’s behind the door.

Imagine what would happen if you viewed every business event as an opportunity. For example, most people would view the entrance of a new competitor as a problem. But what if you reframed it as an opportunity to highlight your free delivery service. Without that event, you wouldn’t have had that opportunity.

Land on your feet.

Cats are masters at recovering from a perilous leap. They always seem to land on their feet and walk away as if to say, “I meant to do that.” Some of it is their athletic prowess but much of it is just attitude. They know how to adjust physically and mentally to adversity.

When you run your own business, there will be times when you misstep. That social media post didn’t get the results you expected. Or that new supplier turned out to be unreliable. You can focus on the mistake or you can keep moving forward. After all, you have eight more lives.

The nose knows.

Dogs can run at full speed then come to an abrupt stop just to take in the scent of something that captures their attention. Their keen sense of smell alerts them to something in the environment that deserves a second sniff.

There’s a lesson in that for business owners. Take the time to notice something new. Maybe it’s how an employee interacts with a customer. That’s your opportunity to provide feedback (good or bad).

There’s always another way.

Ever try to keep your pet from getting into the trash? You can keep it hidden in a cupboard but they learn how to pry open the door. Put it up on the counter and you are amazed at how high they can jump to get it. They always find another way to get to the prize.

You can apply that to business goals too. Say you want to keep your mileage spreadsheet up to date but you’re never in the office long enough to record them on your computer. Switch to a cloud-based app and you can do it from anywhere. Try another approach and you can still reach your desired goal.  

Get down, dog.

Both cats and dogs make no bones about taking time to stretch. In fact, a popular yoga pose is called “down dog.” Stretching wakes up their muscles and increases the blood flow so they can comfortably move when the need arises. You never know when some creature will dart by and a chase ensues.

It’s important for business owners to stay physically fit and manage their energy level. Stretching is an easy way to do that. Here are four exercises entrepreneurs can do, even if you think you don’t have the time.

Show your gratitude.

Dogs wag their tail. Cats let out a playful purr. There’s no doubt what they’re telling you – I appreciate what you’re doing. Humans pick up on that and repeat their behavior. It’s an endless cycle of gratitude.

That’s an important skill for business owners. Show gratitude to your customers, employees, suppliers, anyone who helps you move your business forward. Forbes.com reports there’s scientific evidence it improves physical and psychological health.

Pets bring many benefits to our lives. Surprisingly, they can even give us some lessons on running a business. Turns out you can teach an old master some new business tricks.

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