The Cone of Shame and the Need to Adapt

In the last Louie’s Leadership blog, I shared the episode of Louie, my adopted pup, having surgery to remove a growth on his paw. It was a pretty quick decision, with some uncertainty about what the growth was and how he would handle the recuperation period.

He survived the surgery well, and the growth was a papilloma, a wart. The biggest issue we had was keeping him away from the stitches. Louie is like Houdini; he can get out of any bandage or covering that I put on him to prevent him from chewing on his paw. I was amazed at how many times I found his bandage on the floor somewhere.

LIFE’S ADJUSTMENTS

We came home with a very nice, pliable, see-through cone that was to be placed over his head to keep him from chewing his stitches. I was hesitant to use it because of the look he gave me when I tried to put it on him. First, it was a look of defiance (gee, I’ve never seen that one before), and then he’d look as though I was trying to kill him. And finally, I’d get the puppy dog big brown eyes that captured my heart the very first time I met him.

I attached his collar and slid the cone over his head, stating in a serious, parental tone, “This is for your own good, buddy.” He hated it! And he was mad at me. He decided the best thing he could do was trot out of the room and go to his happy place to look out the window and be away from me. Except he ran into the doorframe and stopped. He looked back at me with a look of “Are you kidding me?” Then he set himself back on track, maneuvered the cone to clear the doorframe, and walked out of the room.

Next, he hit the doorframe going into the room with a view. Again, he stopped, looked back at me, and shook his head. Again, he set himself back on track and maneuvered the cone so he could walk into the room, clearing the doorframe. I could hear him trying to jump up on the seat to look out the window, but because the cone got in the way, he fell back down. He tried again, missed again, and fell back down.

I resisted the urge to jump in and help. I knew he could do it; he just needed to adjust himself a bit to clear the seat. And so he did, finally, and then positioned himself as close to the window as possible so that everyone could see him and would feel sorry for him. And they did.

LESSONS LEARNED

I learned a few valuable leadership lessons thanks to the cone of shame:

  • As tough as it was for him to wear, it helped in the healing process.
  • In order to achieve a goal (look out the window), he had to make several adjustments and think outside the “cone.”
  • As a leader, you can’t always jump in to rescue someone. They have to learn things for themselves, as tough as it is to watch them fall.
  • Louie learned a few new things; like how to eat his food with the cone, even though he looked like a vacuum cleaner as he leaned over his bowl and inhaled.
  • He figured out pretty quickly that he was good at tipping the water bowl over.
  • There was no need for me to walk around calling the contraption on his head the cone of shame. Well, actually, that’s a lie—he hated it and no doubt, was ashamed to wear it!
  • The less opportunity he had to bother his stitches, the faster he healed and the longer the cone stayed off. For Louie, this meant that he felt better, and was back to taking walks and playing with his pals.

Louie soaked in the attention for as long as he could. As time passed and his stitches were removed, I realized the overarching lesson of this entire experience. While we must take time to heal from some of life’s tough lessons, deep down inside, we know we can adjust and adapt. And in that perseverance, we may actually learn to enjoy life more.

 

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Thank you, Eastside Rotary, for inviting us to speak to your fabulous members!

 

Every year, March 20, we celebrate Louie! While we’re not sure of his actual birthday, we decided the first day of spring was a perfect day to celebrate his new life! Louie is somewhere between 5-6 years of age. Celebrate with us and wish this little guy a happy birthday! Thank you!

 

 

Relax, Lou! There Are Plenty Of Moles To Go Around.

For some reason, this winter has made the ground in our neighborhood very susceptible to moles. You can’t walk in a grassy area without walking over a tunnel dug underground by a mole. And of course, Louie, my adopted pup, is keenly aware of his nemeses lurking just under the surface everywhere he steps.

As we were enjoying one of the unseasonably warm days recently, I noticed Louie had a little extra spring in his step. He was ready to pounce at any given time to expose a mole—or several, if need be. After all, this is what he was created for, and it was his duty to rid our community of as many moles as he could. His fans were counting on him to fulfill his calling.

And pounce he did—several times, in fact—and chased away one or two of the little critters. As we got closer to our home, he found a mound that was especially inviting. He dug and dug and snorted and pulled away clumps of grass with his mouth, and nothing was going to stop him from his responsibility.

Then along came Louie’s friend, Mick—his Goldendoodle pal from across the street. Louie pulled his head out of the dirt and ran over to play with Mick. Then Mac came along, and the three of them jumped and played; it seemed the role of the mighty mole hunter was all but forgotten. That is until Mick got a little too close to the molehill and Louie gave him a firm warning. “That’s MY molehill, buddy,” Louie seemed to snarl. Then Mac stepped a little too close to the molehill, and Louie had all he could take. He made it clear he did not want anyone stepping any closer to the molehill because he had put so much work into digging that hole and possibly finding his treasure.

The humans laughed and shrugged it off as one of his many quirky behaviors. Once Mick and Mac left, Louie went back to digging, clearly not willing to share the findings, should any be uncovered.

As I pulled him away to finish our walk, I shook my head at how possessive and territorial he can be sometimes. I mean, to snarl at his friends just because they were a little too close to the molehill he was working on so diligently? And yet, this gave me great pause. Isn’t that just like us regarding our businesses?

Many people in business today are no different than Louie. They safeguard their information like a child who wraps his arms around his dinner plate making sure no one in the family has an opportunity to steal his food. I do understand the delicate balance of sharing and yet maintaining the quality of intellectual property, but many people, especially in the business-consulting circle, believe they have the market cornered when it comes to their particular information and design.

I have great news! There is nothing new under the sun, and there is plenty of business to go around. While cooperation is essential for teams within organizations, how well do you collaborate with other businesses? I have been blessed with excellent collaborative partnerships throughout the years and have found that working together is much better than competing against one another (I know, competition is good to a certain point).

What I have learned through collaboration is the following:

  1. I have strengths and skill sets others may not have and vice versa. Combined, we make a strong team and will work on one or two projects together to test the water.
  2. I have business contacts others may not have and vice versa. We don’t need to share every contact, but we may find some in common and others that we may simply provide an introduction to.
  3. I learn so much more and provide such a greater service to my clients from brainstorming with others who are also in the same business I am in.

I’ve enjoyed learning from the best: Lynne Ruhl (Perfect10 Corporate Cultures), T. D. Hughes (former CEO and chair of the board of LaRosa’s), Bob Pautke (LEAD Clermont and SOAR Consultancy) and Ken Blanchard (author of The One Minute Manager).

I am still in partnership with The Ken Blanchard Companies and enjoy maintaining a connection with Ken and meeting with Michelle Shone (business development agent, The Ken Blanchard Companies) on a regular basis. I learned a valuable lesson from Ken many years ago. When he shares the wisdom he’s learned from someone else, he always gives that person credit and honors his or her name and calling in life by doing so. He has done this for the 18 years I have known him, and he still does it today.

I know all too many people who take credit for work, material, and ideas they had nothing to do with bringing to fruition. Yet, they never give people the proper credit and are perfectly happy with allowing people to believe they are the originators. This is stealing, not collaboration. And it fosters a sense of insecurity and negative response, exactly the way Louie behaved.

Although it would have taken me awhile to get Louie to understand that had Mick and Mac joined in the hunt for the mole, the three of them might have been successful in finding one or two moles. Instead, we have a big hole in the ground, a very messy dog, and no mole.

Look for ways to collaborate with others, even those who may seem to be fishing in the same pond as you. It will foster a sense of cooperation and accomplishment—and you may learn a thing or two. Just remember to give proper credit where credit is due.

 

I could not resist adding a few pictures of my favorite girls with their hero, Fiona the Hippo

 

When Louie Locks Eyes With You

Louie is one smart dog. I know most dog owners say that about their dogs, but truly, this little guy is amazing.

For instance, we’ll be taking a long walk, and typically Louie can walk quite a distance. But sometimes if he’s been on a long run with his friend and walker, Mary, he’ll let me know he’s tired. He’ll slow down, lower his head and look straight into my eyes as if to say, “Can we slow it down a bit?”

When I ask him if he wants to go back, he spins right around and trots back toward our home with a sudden burst of newfound energy.

What gives me pause as I reflect on this interchange is the way Louie locks eyes with me, which he does quite often. He doesn’t just look at me; he actually locks eyes with me and clearly communicates his message. Not a word passes between us (well, OK, I am doing all the talking), not a hand signal, not a sound, and yet he understands me and I understand him. Now, that is an amazing dog.

Other times as we walk, he just reaches up with his mouth to touch my hand. I look at him and, again, he locks eyes as if to say, “I just wanted you to know I’m still here.”

I started to take note of how often Louie locks eyes, not only with me but with others as well:

  • When he comes across an unfamiliar dog, he stares and locks eyes. Actually, this is a stare down and a challenge. I would not suggest you do that with others.
  • When someone enters my home, he locks eyes with my guests, searching to see if they are friend or foe. Usually, he warmly welcomes them into our home.
  • When I am in the kitchen cooking, he stares, hoping to lock eyes with me so that I will fall under his spell and hear his plea: “Give me a piece of the food you are preparing that smells so wonderful. That’s right, just drop it on the floor and I will love you forever.”
  • During my quiet time in the mornings, there is a sense of peace and calmness. I look over at Louie on his bed, and we lock eyes as if to say, “All is well!”
  • He locks eyes with my granddaughters Evi and Mea when they give him belly rubs.
  • I’m amazed how he locks eyes with the drivers in big black trucks whom he mistakenly believes are my son-in-law delivering Evi and Mea to my home.
  • And he locks eyes with my neighbors either while we’re walking or when he sees them stroll by our house. He will bark at them until they acknowledge him and he has an opportunity to make a connection with them.

I could go on about this uncanny way of locking eyes and communicating a wordless message.

My parents always taught me to lock eyes with people because they matter. And Louie has confirmed the need for this powerful leadership tool. Effective and successful leaders hone their relationship skills by practicing the small and seemingly insignificant behaviors that let others know they are valued and loved. Taking time to truly “see” people is an important leadership behavior.

Some time ago, I heard Bill Hybels, the founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, say, “You cannot lock eyes with someone who does not matter to God.” That resonated with me then and still does today.

In our very superficial world where most of the people we pass have their faces plastered against their phones, I urge you to take a few minutes to truly lock eyes with someone and let them know they matter–you see them and they are valued. You just might make a significant difference in another person’s life and begin the process of truly finding common ground.

Louie loves to communicate with his eyes, and I am blessed to be the recipient of his “lock and load ’em up with love” big brown eyes. Yep, I feel loved!

Miracles Do Happen; The Power of K9 Karson’s Story

KArson EviIf you read our last post, Louie was on the verge of getting fired! We’re working on our issues and he is still here, but that is NOT the miracle.

For the last 60 days, Louie and I have been praying for a fellow canine. While I don’t believe there are any “ordinary” dogs, this one is quite extraordinary. K9 Karson, a Belgian Malinois, is a Police Officer for the Wilmington Ohio Police Department. He escaped a boarding kennel on December 23, 2014, where he was staying while his handler, Officer Jerry Popp, was on vacation.

I first heard about his escape on December 24 on a Cincinnati news station and have followed the story from various news sources. Karson has a Facebook page, and at the time of his escape, there were a few followers but as word spread, the followers increased. It became clear from the Facebook posts that with the extreme cold, finding Karson quickly was critical. While those of us who followed the story were somewhat emotionally invested, it was nothing like the emotional toll it took on Officer Popp, and I’m sure, Karson himself. For them, sheer determination to find each other became the driving force.

Once the story went viral, a groundswell of support grew. Followers offered support and encouragement, and many volunteers were on foot and in cars searching for Karson with his favorite toy, a tennis ball. He would be spotted here and there but would run from anyone who got close. Over the two months he was missing, hundreds of people searched, prayed for his safe return, and shed tears over his loss.

Many discussions took place with some who believed he probably hadn’t survived or if he had, might have been taken by someone who didn’t realize he was not only a police officer but also a dearly loved companion. Signs were posted and a group of faithful followers prayed every single night at 10 p.m. for Karson’s protection, safety, and homecoming. Although some gave up on him, Officer Popp and many of us remained optimistic he would be found.

I’ve been asked why all the emotional upheaval over a dog when there are so many worthy causes to claim our attention. But when people say, “he’s just a dog,” Mayor Randy Riley of Wilmington responds: “He is not your typical pet. He is a member of and an officer with the Wilmington Police Department.” In a statement to the photographer whose picture of Karson in a field confirmed his final location, Mayor Riley said, “You found an officer who was missing in action and returned him.” Clearly, K9 Karson is more than “just a dog.”

Thank goodness this story has a happy ending. After missing for 61 days, Karson was found on Sunday, February 22, 2015. I wept when I read Officer Popp’s words: “Karson has been found. I have him in the truck next to me. He’s alive and healthy. It’s all over finally…” Despite his long absence during one of the coldest winters our area has experienced, Karson lost about 14 pounds, suffered from dehydration and his paws were fairly reddened by the snow. It’s a miracle those were his only ailments.

As the number of followers on Facebook increased, I saw something amazing take place. Right before the news broke that he had been found, there were just under 22,000 likes for the K9 Karson page. By 9 p.m. that night, almost 6,000 additional people viewed and liked Karson’s page.

Although it’s not about the “likes,” I wonder why there were so many so quickly. People probably heard about Karson missing but once he was found, they decided to like his page. Why? Because people like happy endings? Perhaps, or is it because people wait to see what happens, hesitant to invest themselves in a story lest they be disappointed if it ends badly. With so much depressing news happening in our world, it is tough to believe in miracles, but they happen all around us, even for our pets.

Miracles don’t happen because we wave a magic wand and “poof,” we all live happily ever after. They are called miracles because things happen that are out of our control, which result in an ending many times beyond our imagination. There are, however, things we can do to “hasten” miracles:

  1. PLANT THE SEED OF FAITH: In this case, a person made one phone call; a volunteer took one more look; a photographer hoped their camera would catch a glimpse of “the hairy kid,” and another offered one more prayer pleading for his safe return. These are seeds of faith that were planted.
  2. AN ENVIRONMENT OF HOPE: The ”germination” stage for this miracle was hope. The unfailing hope and perseverance of Officer Popp, the Wilmington Police Department, the Mayor, and all the volunteers and prayer warriors created a fertile environment. And though at times it was by a thread, hope remained strong in Officer Popp’s heart.
  3. THE DYNAMIC DUO OF LOVE AND PATIENCE: The bond between Officer Popp and Karson was evident and they quickly became our dynamic duo. After we’ve planted the seeds and created a hopeful environment for it to grow, we come to what is perhaps the hardest part and that is patiently waiting. What would drive Officer Popp to continue patiently searching every day with no promise of a fruitful outcome? LOVE!

Miracles often happen at the 11th hour as in the case of Karson. The Sunday he was found was to be the last day of the organized search. The professional tracker and K-9 trainer, Jordina Ghiggeri, was set to drive back to New Jersey and the trail cameras were being removed.

I had an opportunity to meet Officer Jerry Popp, Jordina Ghiggeri, and our beloved Karson on his first day back to the station for training. I asked Jerry if the reality has taken hold yet. “I still can’t believe it,” he said shaking his head. “It was truly a miracle. I still wake up in the middle of the night to check his bed to make sure it’s real—that he’s still there.”

I have to wonder, Officer Popp, how many times Karson looks at you with those soulful brown eyes to make sure it’s real—that you are still there. It truly is a miracle and will not be quickly forgotten.

Popp in fieldPhoto: Pam Jones

 God whispers miracles in the quietness of our hearts far from the curious onlookers and crowds.  This picture speaks volumes of God’s gentle whisper. Once Karson was safely secured in the police vehicle, Officer Popp collapsed on the ground, overcome with emotion and gratitude that Karson was alive and at first glance, very healthy. Jordina and fellow officer, Sgt. Fithen were there to offer support.

Mark 9:23 “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Karson LOU

I had the pleasure of meeting Officer Popp, Jordina Ghiggeri, and our beloved K9 Karson on his first day back to the department!  When I arrived home, Louie was curious and asked to schedule an interview with this guy named Karson. Oh Louie…you little Karson wannabe!

Send an email to: danise@di-advisors.com

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