Why We Should All Be Like Tanner
The world is a scary place. At least that’s what my dog thinks. His name is Tanner. He’s a four-year-old American Pitbull and of course, he’s the best boy there ever was. My wife and I saw Tanner’s picture online at a local animal shelter and knew we had to meet him. The animal shelter posted videos of him adventuring up mountains and diving into lakes with an amazing foster family and we could tell that this dog was special. We drove to the shelter and mentioned that we wanted to spend time with Tanner.
The volunteers there were excited, but also gave us a bit of caution in that Tanner is not like other dogs. A bit puzzled, we waited outside until he came around the corner with a trainer, all the while, he was making this high pitch sound, almost like a bird or a broken squeaker toy. You see, Tanner had a bit of rough life before. He was adopted by a family that wasn’t ready for a dog and their neglect caused him to form behavioral problems, anxiety, and separation issues. We could tell that he was incredibly nervous about everything, and I do mean everything, but he also had a big goofy smile on his face. My wife and I knew that he was going to become a new member of our family. What I did not expect though is how much this dog would teach me about myself.
Tanner takes chances. Even though he might be scared of trying something new, Tanner is always the first to lead the way. Whether this means growling at a noise outside or being the first to greet a guest, he feels the need to take immediate action. Of course, it may not always work out sometimes by sliding into the door or perhaps the noise was a false alarm, but with Tanner, action comes first and hesitation is a second thought.
His actions remind me that I also need to take chances. Don’t overthink it. Just dive in. Life is all about taking chances and plenty of them won’t work out. You may believe that your latest project is going to revolutionize the world, and perhaps it will! However, it may never reach the level of super stardom. If the work is meaningful though, it doesn’t matter. I’ve launched a podcast episode before where I thought the content was a slam dunk and then…crickets. Hearing absolute silence after you share a message is the worst. But sure enough, a few weeks went by, and an old colleague reached out to me. She had been listening to every episode and had lost 15 pounds and found a new level of confidence. At that moment, taking a chance on producing a podcast was so worth it.
Ask yourself this: Is there something that you have always wanted to do, but were afraid to take the chance? After mulling it over, what’s the worst that could seriously happen? It doesn’t work out? Okay, life goes on. So, what holds us back from striving harder? Assumptions. We assume the worst in situations like being rejected or laughed at, but at the end of the day, they are only assumptions. Taking a chance is scary since you won’t have all the answers, but I would rather take the chance than assume what would happen.
Never Give In
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again. A part of Tanner’s anxiousness is that when things change, he doesn’t know what to do. He’s looking for direction and will be riled up until he’s assigned a “job” to do. This could be something like sit, stay, or going to fetch his favorite rope. As you can imagine, training is no different. At first, we couldn’t keep his attention for more than a minute. Now, he can do several training sessions a day and not be tired. He also enjoys going on a treadmill (this is the best purchase you can do for a dog in the winter by the way). His persistence and due diligence have made him into a more patient and disciplined dog. Not only that, he looks forward to his trainings. Overall, he would have never gotten to this point, if he had given up on himself.
Have you given up on something recently? Did you quit on applying for that dream job or maybe quit on a healthier way of eating? Remember the line your parents told you as a kid about how you could be anything you want to be when you grow up? Well, they weren’t wrong. What wasn’t mentioned though was how tough the road would be to get there. I would argue that there would need to be an asterisk at the end of that sentence. Yes, you can be anything you want to be, as long you understand that:
people will doubt you
you’ll be told you aren’t good enough
you’ll face obstacle after obstacle
you’ll lose friends along the way
you’ll have to work harder beyond comprehension
However, when you realize all of these things and accept them, no one can stop you.
I used to read about accomplished people and wondered what made them different from me. Why is it that they could always do more than I could? In truth, they don’t have some magical ability that prevents them from failing. What they do have though, is the ability to push through and not accept the word “no.” I became amazing at telling myself that negative comments don’t matter. I just had to believe in that whatever I was trying to do was going to work because I was giving it literally all I had. Stop listening to the doubters and care about yourself.
Face the World with a Smile
Every morning around 5 AM, Tanner wakes up with a big smile on his face. He starts off his day on the right foot (or paw, I guess). Instead of waking up and being a grouch because it’s early, he takes the approach of today is a new day and it will be a great day. Even if Tanner had a tough day where he was all worked up, going to bed is like his “reset button.” Then when he wakes up, he’s ready to try again.
His peppy attitude became catchy and sure enough, I found myself getting up earlier and earlier, trying to have this same positive mindset when I started my day. Even if I knew that my day was going to be straight up madness, I was going to smile through it. It became quite clear when the positivity began to spread with those around me. What once used to be a bleak “good morning” when I saw people in the office, turned into a chance to make someone’s day. It was nothing fancy, but I mentioned how it was great to see them and asked how they have been. It was a small step towards taking a genuine interest with those nearby. This tiny act of facing the world with a smile changed my perception of the culture around me and I’d encourage you to do the same. The next time you see someone, smile and say “It’s great to see you.” I bet they will fumble through with a response because it caught them off guard! We have become so accustomed to starting off the day dreading our meeting filled calendars, when in reality, we can change this monotonous morning routine into something pleasant.
Tanner has brought an insurmountable joy to our lives and he’s taught me important lessons along the way. Let this lovable little guy become your spirit animal. Take chances, never give in, and face the world with a smile. We should all try to be a little more like Tanner.