Image this: You’ve been cooped up inside because you’ve felt under the weather for four days. You finally start to feel better so you decide to take your dog for a run.
That was me a couple of days ago. I felt like crud in the morning. My throat would burn and I would feel groggy throughout most of the day.
I was stoked to get outside for a run. Honestly, I think Lok was more excited than I was. Still, you get the picture.
We’re both excited. We run for 4 miles and the run was great. Our pace was just above 8 minutes per mile. There were no stops (other than a couple of potty breaks for Lok). And Lok got to go for a swim.
I think we were both on cloud 9 at this point. We both felt good and we were happy with our run.
After we finish our run and swim, we begin our half-mile walk home. The walk was uneventful for the first third of a mile. We walked from Lok’s swimming spot and by the church at the end of our street.
Then something happened.
I hear a dog bark. I see a large dog charging his fence. And then I see the dog squeeze his head under the fence and bolt towards Lok and me.
At first, I thought things were going to be fine. The dog only wanted to greet Lok… I was wrong.
As soon as they got nose to nose, there was vicious snarling from the dog I’d never seen before. Before I knew it, the two dogs were locked in a large dog fight.
The two dogs were going at each other. The stranger dog was biting and wrapping his body around Lok. Lok, he chose to fight back. He latched onto the larger dog and wasn’t going to back down (I have to say I was proud of him for this).
Seeing the two dogs fight was one of the scariest things I’ve seen. I thought my boy was a goner. Thankfully, the dogs disengaged from the fight… And Lok walked away from the fight with only a few scratches.
Leadership Lessons From A Dog Fight
This may seem like a strange thing to learn a leadership lesson or two from but I did. I took away a few insights into leadership from the dog fight. I wish I didn’t need to… But the fight happened and I did.
Smaller organizations can hold their own:
Lok is a Vizsla. They’re a gentle breed of dog. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Lok try to hurt another creature.
I recall a time when he saw a bird on the bike trail we run. He saw the bird and went to investigate. He grabbed the bird with his mouth. When the bird moved, he realized he shouldn’t have picked the bird up and drop it. That’s how gentle Lok is.
When Lok was in the fight with the larger dog, he wouldn’t back down. He actually held on pretty well in the fight. He did well enough that he walked away with minimum injuries.
You may be facing a giant of a competition. You may look at them and see no way that your organization can compete.
I want to encourage you. You can compete against the giants of your industry. You can be the scrappy fighter like Lok was.
Know what your mission is. Know what your unique selling point it. And know you can survive if you’re willing to fight for it.
You don’t know how you’re going to react:
Being a man, I always told myself I’d react quickly and swiftly to any threat against my dog. This incident showed that I was incorrect. I wouldn’t react swiftly.
At first, I stood there in horror as another dog attacked my dog. I couldn’t fathom why or how this was happening. For what seemed an eternity, my dog was being attacked.
I tried to separate the two by grabbing their necks and trying to pull them apart. That didn’t work.
I tried to kick the other dog to get him to release his grip. That partially worked.
I yelled at the dog to go away. That partially worked too.
Actually, that’s what alerted the dog’s owner that something was wrong. She came out and the dog released Lok and went back towards the fence.
All of this to say, you don’t know how you’re going to respond to a situation you’ve never been in before. New situations are scary. They challenge you to come up with solutions on the fly.
Train yourself to look for solutions quickly.
While it can be hard to train yourself, you can. You need to create situations where there are low stakes but could be realistic.
Look for ways to test your actions by putting yourself into situations that are controlled but test yourself. Then you can be confident in how you will respond to new challenges.
Remove trouble areas:
Our walk homes are a bit different now. We no longer go past the house with the dog that attacked us. Instead, we choose to alter our route and turn a street earlier.
You may know of people who cause your organization grief. You can choose to remove those people from the organization.
Or maybe there’s a product line that gives you small returns but the customer always nags you. Remove the product from your offerings.
Or there might be a technological hindrance in your organization. Look at it and see if you can either remove the technology or replace it with a newer version.
You can remove trouble areas in your organization. You only have to be willing to.
Question: What have you learned from a troubling situation in your life? How did it help you become a better leader? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.