Racing to be the lead dog doesn’t always make you a winner
Grace loves the woods. On many Sunday mornings we go for a walk with a small group of people in search of mushrooms.She’s always in motion out there and I absolutely love to watch her graceful moves as she navigates around, over, and through a variety of natural obstacles in her way. On rare occasions another dog joins us, but usually she’s the only four-legged mushroomer (not that she’s really helping that effort!).
This past weekend, a 2-year-old rottweiler mix, Mya, came along with her mom, Pat. After the usual sniffing introductions, Grace and Mya became fast friends (pun intended). Once we got on the trail, we let them off-leash and they immediately took off racing. They were evenly matched in speed, and I think Grace was stunned to find another dog could keep up with her. It didn’t take her long to realize that this youngster was going to give her a run for her money. Within minutes, Grace was artfully leaping over limbs and making short, unexpected turns in the path. She had immediately found ways to derail Mya’s speed, yet allow their play to continue—as long as Grace was in the lead!
This mischievous (and pretty darn shrewd if I say so myself) action amused me but sometimes in human interaction it’s not that adorable. There are times when it’s appropriate to allow the other person to shine. I think that’s especially true for an inexperienced individual, one that is in the process of learning a new skill, for example. Of course, balancing that line is important, because we learn and grow by being stretched. We all know that competition can bring out our best performance.
When working with others, how do you know when you should be the lead dog or when you should follow?