Nearly all of my life, I have held jobs where others have told me what to do, when to do it, and where to do it. In return, I received a paycheck. And nearly all of my life, I’ve not maintained an allegiance to a single employer for more than four years.
I’ve disappointed a lot of people, including myself sometimes. I’ve brought my dear wife, Cathy, along with me to some harrowing crossroads.
Some people call it a gut instinct, others call it natural talent, while others may call it a Universal guidance. Others call it just plain stupidity. I don’t have a name for it, but I feel it, I listen to it and I follow it.
I march to the beat of my own drum. I don’t play by the rules. I fight the status quo. I’m rarely satisfied. I wear a “resting bitch” face. I’m unconventional. I’m a disruption. I’m a pain-in-the-ass. Yup, sure sounds like me!
I’ve survived several attempts of career suicide by trying to reinvent myself which by the way, apparently looks horrible on a resume. I have gained a rich knowledge and valuable experience with each new season of my tumultuous life.
In early summer 2019, a friend invited me to join her and her husband in creating a new business literally and figuratively from the ground up.
“Peter, I don’t know what role you would have, or how you may be able to help. All I do know is that I need you on my team. ”
“Okay, I’m in.”
I helped demolish an old building. I helped construct a new “Taj Mahal.” I helped define a vision and a culture. I helped recruit, hire, and build a crew of team members. My reputation in the community helped bring clients to the doors of Funway Bark CT which opened in November 2019.
Immediately, the fledgling business began to exceed expectations. However, the Covid-19 pandemic threatens its continued success and the future is uncertain.
Yet, I am certain of one thing!
I am making a difference in the lives of the people I work with. I do not consider them to be my subordinates. They are not a staff that I supervise. They are my teammates; they are employees I work alongside everyday to sweep floors, and wash food bowls, and empty poop containers, etc.
I am still learning how to be a mentor and a teacher to this team. Previous employers have taught how NOT to earn someone’s trust and respect. I want to be one who leads from behind. I want to set a safe course and watch my teammates go on their journeys. I want to respectfully nudge them when they stray off course. Early and not-so-obvious feedback indicates I am on the right track.
This picture features Mikayla, doing what she loves to do: training dogs. I’m learning how and where I can stretch and enhance her skills so she will grow and succeed. The photographer in this picture is Meghan. Later this week, I am going to join Meghan on a private training lesson; she asked me to come along as her mentor (that’s a powerful word!) Last week, I assisted Jason, another team member, in a private dog training lesson. He asked me to “take the lead” so he can observe and learn from me. When I ask Heath, “Do you have any interest in learning XYZ?” he always says, “Yes.” Also on the team are Casey and Allie. They are groomers by trade, but they are always willing to help out, and they are like sponges who thirst for learning new skills. I can’t forget Allison, Holly, and Alex who are currently furloughed, but they are eager to return to work and grow personally and professionally.
So, I “see” so much in this picture. I see the building I help construct. I see a skilled trainer actively engaged with the dogs entrusted to her care. I see the photographer who tried a thousand times to help capture the perfect moment. I see the expressions of gratitude in the clients when they pick up their dog. I see the “likes” and positive comments on social media. I see the campus where I am able to share my knowledge and experience with other like-minded individuals.
I forget what is wrong in the world. I forget the chaos that surrounds us. I forget my mistakes. I forget my shortcomings. I forget the labels others place on me. Rather, I embrace who I am and what I do.
I ask you to please set a safe course for yourself and the people in your life. Aim for the destination of having your friends, family, coworkers look back fondly on their time spent in your presence. Please, lead from behind, set safe courses, and nourish the growth of others.
The world needs it right now!
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.