Over the last month, I’ve been sharing weekly reports of life with my Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Lily. As Mike and I settle into our new groove, my focus turns to how I can apply what I’m learning about good puppy-raising into my professional life.
This week led to some breakthroughs with Lily that are highly relevant to human high performance. Read on to hear them.
1. Stay Persistent
Surprisingly, Week 4 was as joyous and fun as Week 3 was difficult. It was as if we entered a time warp.
We didn’t have any accidents. Lily went to bed without a problem and slept through the night.
My workdays were a (relative) breeze. Most of the day, Lily quietly napped in her bed underneath my desk. When I had calls or meetings and Lily was active, most of the time Mike was able to step outside and play with her so I could focus.
One piece of advice I would have given myself in Week 3 is to hold on. Keep going. Stay the course. It will get better.
2. Tired Puppy = Happy Household
A key reason we had it easy this week is that Mike paid special attention into exercise outings with Lily in the mornings, getting her used to the hikes she’ll take with us once she’s older and stronger.
All week, Mike and Lily took short mountainside hikes and longer walks around the neighborhood. And in the evenings, in the backyard, all three of us played Frisbee and fetch, encouraging Lily to run out her zoomies.
Looking back, this single tweak achieved so many important outcomes: exercise (for Lily and us), bonding time, and quality time with Mike and me.
Mike and I both felt great, lost a little weight, slept better, awoke feeling more rested, and got more done than we had in any other week since Lily came home. We remembered how great it feels to have sore muscles from hard work — and are on a great groove heading into next week.
3. Repeat (And Ideally Automate) Successes
Last week, I shared our decision to get meals delivered during the workweek to take pressure off Mike in the kitchen… and boy, was it a success.
The meal service we chose delivered exceptional meals (I’ll write more in a standalone review) and the timing worked out such that we had a few bottles of biodynamic wine left over from our last Dry Farm shipment.
I doubled down on last week’s learnings, adding a second Dry Farm subscription to my account so that we would automatically get wine delivered before we run out. I also did an audit of our frequent household items and automated their delivery at regular intervals using Amazon Subscribe and Save.
My goal is to automate almost all of our day-to-day shopping needs so that the only time we need to shop is when we choose to.
Biggest Lesson Learned
Notice what’s working, and expand it. Instead of looking for problems or focusing on things that aren’t working, shift gears and look for what is working. Then focus on improving it even more.
This applies not just to puppies, but people.
When you’re working with direct reports and other team members, notice what they’re doing right — and let them know you’ve noticed. A little appreciation goes a long way.
Instead of pointing out something your spouse or partner hasn’t done, or isn’t doing the way you want them to, find a way to support them.
One evening last week, Mike was putting dishes away into what I believed were the wrong cabinets — I remembered those dishes going someplace else.
A few years ago, I would have said something like, Hey, you’re putting those bowls away in the wrong spot. This unproductive communication leads to defensiveness at best and an argument at worst.
Instead, the conversation went like this:
Me: I notice you’re putting the cat bowls on a different shelf than last time.
Mike: Yeah, I wanted to put all the cat things on this shelf, and all the dog things on this shelf, instead of keeping all their bowls together.
Me: Oh, that’s creative! I hadn’t thought of doing it that way. Thanks for doing that!
Thinking about effective teamwork, can you see how Mike would have felt differently in each conversation? In one, he’s feeling in the wrong — and nobody wants to do something wrong when they’re speaking with someone they love. In the other, he’s feeling pleased that I complimented his creativity, or that he made a system that I like (knowing that I love creating systems and organizing).
It’s all in the language and delivery. And when you start by looking for something to appreciate or be grateful for, any criticism becomes irrelevant.