Imagine that you play the position of shortstop for a baseball team. You have played the position for seven years. You are an athlete. You have a strong skill set that complements your abundance of talent. All of a sudden, you are asked to switch positions. You now have to play the position of second base.
You tell yourself, “No problem.”
Suddenly, reality hits you. You find yourself fumbling with your footwork and messing up routine double-plays. You are making errors. Although your teammates encourage you, your confidence and pride is shattered.
You say to yourself, “Man, this is A LOT harder than I thought.” You are uncomfortable in your comfort zone of playing baseball!
I am a dog trainer (the shortstop.) Last week, I started a new dog training job (playing second base.)
I’m learning a new style of training. I’m taking directions and asking for guidance from teammates and coworkers who are much younger than I am. That’s a big change for me. I’m working with more dogs per day, every day, than I have in many months of being self-employed. I am uncomfortable in my comfort zone of dog training.
Each dog that I encounter challenges my education, my experience, and my gut-instinct. They exhaust me, mentally.
I am brushing cobwebs off skills that I have not used in quite some time. I am learning new skills and I am making a lot of mistakes. I am trying to learn from my mistakes. I am a student when I am used to being a teacher.
I am teaching dogs a better way to live. I am teaching them how to focus and pay attention. I am teaching them to be respectful of a person’s space and proper manners. I am teaching them new skills. At times, the dogs make me feel like a substitute teacher. My lack of confidence makes me an easy target for the “trouble makers.”
However, when we work together, we can bring out the best in one another. A strong, clumsy, and ill-mannered dog begins to realize life is easier when she slows down and pays attention. I get to see Retrievers swim in a pond and retrieve a duck. I get to see Pointers get on a scent and point. I see them using their instincts, working, and having fun. The dogs get to see me smiling with absolute joy, wonder, and gratitude.
We help one another overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It’s amazing what progress can be made when we swallow our pride and learn to be humble.
It has been many years since I have enjoyed going to work. I am thankful for a team of people who have welcomed me into their professional family. And, I am grateful for the dogs that are both my teachers and my students. They make me smile.
It won’t be long now before I am comfortable in my new position.
Have you ever been pushed or pulled in a strange direction, within your comfort zone?
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.