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If someone were to calculate how much time we waste with obfuscation and verbal gymnastics, I bet the result would show that we're wasting a great portion of our lives on dissemblance.
I told someone I was coaching the other day that "Your web site doesn't represent you well at all." She responded maturely, "Why not? What would you change?" And off we went. It's her prerogative to ignore me, although that's not the best reaction when you've paid someone for their unadulterated advice.
I could have said, "The site is pretty good, and your photo is fine, but there may be some people who find that there's a bit too much text to wade through, although it's well written, and your client results are hidden in there, though I've seen this done by others, you're no means alone." Now, multiply that by a hundred such transactions a day and you begin to lose years off your life.
Not to mention the fact that you're not doing anyone a favor.
If you don't assume the other person is damaged or immature, then why not treat them as a healthy, functioning adult who would like to get to the heart of the matter and doesn't need insulation foam for their ego? The old clich� in performance evaluation to provide good news before bad news only conditions people to expect bad news every time you give them good news. I recall a classic critique of a two-line poem: "It's nice, though there are dull stretches."
I had tough college professors. They pulled no punches. You knew exactly where you stood. But I had a succession of bosses in the work force who vacillated like chandeliers in an earthquake. You never knew whether they were telling the truth, had hidden agendas, or were sincere. They were useless in terms of developing me as a resource. Why would you treat an employee whom you're paying with less respect than a student who is paying you?
As long as what you have to say is factually based and is manifest in my behavior or results, I'm happy to hear it. I'm happy to tell you if I disagree, based on the evidence, but I respect you none the less for trying to help me, ESPECIALLY if I've asked you for the help.
I've never like the traditional therapist who refused to commit. I like honest intervention. But if you ask me to tell you what I think, I don't want to have to say, "Are you sure?"
Just give it to me straight and I'll do the same for you. We really don't have time to dance around the issues because they are not playing our song.
I've always warmed up more quickly to people who love dogs. I can understand someone being agnostic about canis lupus familiaris, but I don't grok people who dislike dogs (or who dislike animals). The naturalist John Muir commented once when people were wondering why something like poison ivy existed and what purpose it possibly served, "Perhaps it was made for itself."
Here's what Buck, Trotsky, Phoebe, Koufax, and Buddy have brought into my life:
Perseverance: Eventually, the drawer holding the dog treats will be opened. Standing there and staring at it can't hurt, brings attention to the object and, occasionally, it is left ajar inviting immediate access.
Focus: Koufax studied the squirrels for weeks after failing to catch them, practiced some more by chasing Buddy, and then began catching squirrels. He applied discipline and real-time learning.
Unadulterated enjoyment: Dogs will do anything necessary short of committing a felony to ride in a vehicle. They never tire of it, will try to get their heads out the window at every opportunity, and rejoice in the experience. They don't worry that it might not happen again soon, or that today's ride wasn't as good as yesterday's, or that another dog is in a roomier vehicle. They simple revel in the ride.
Thoroughness: My wife would wash any dish that she found outside its usual place even though it was sparkling clean, because there was a 70% probability that Trotsky had cleaned it off, despite no trace of any food remnants. Any hint of flavor demands a dozen licks, and floors are to be inspected for yards around when anything has spilled.
Relaxation: Dogs are perfectly happy doing nothing. Buck would sit for hours simple looking around, absolutely content. If you threw a ball at him it would bounce off his head and he would shoot you that look: What is your problem? They don't need to be entertained by others, don't need to tell you their life story, and are remarkably low maintenance.
Exploration: Running away on occasion is required to demonstrate independence, sniff the woods, commune with other dogs, and generally explore the unknown. Once you do this, it becomes less and less intimidating and you must find new ways to innovative escape routes since there are actually those who believe they can stop your wanderlust.
Comfort: Cats are over-rated. Dogs will find the maximum comfort level, including layers of just-cleaned clothing, bed spreads, and pillows. This is there due, and they view such items as useful pragmatically, with aesthetics taking a back seat.
Unconditional love: Dogs are loyal. They are not judgmental. They never assume your are damaged or project their own weaknesses onto you. They will indulge you in games that you like much better than they, and will comfort you when you are down and rejoice with you when you're up. They will lick your wounds and calm your psyche and ask nothing in return except to be included.
I heard an anthropologist say once that dogs are human parasites. We let them into our caves 10,000 years ago and haven't been able to get rid of them yet. That endurance implies great value.
It may just be a dog's life. Theirs shouldn't be so short.
A national steel association, for which I was speaking, insisted that I attend the dreaded cocktail party the evening prior to my keynote. I attempted every subterfuge, dodge, and cavil, but to no avail. The client knew my flight times, had arranged for the car, and was adamantine in their insistence on my presence "to meet the guys."
Sure enough, at 7 I skulked into a huge suite containing 40 or more steel men, smoking and drinking and bonding. I headed for the bar set up in the corner, ordered a vodka, and looked up to see a gorgeous blonde smiling at me over her chardonnay at the other end of the bar. Our eyes locked.
"My God, you're a woman!" I blurted.
"And you must be our speaker tomorrow," she observed.
"Because you recognize me?" I preened.
"No, because of your amazing perceptive powers," she cooed.
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