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  • Jerry Phillips

Unskillful Use of a Strength

My dog Bo is a creature of habit. He eats at the same time every day. He immediately wants outside, and he follows the same pattern each time. He growls in a low growl as he races to the steps off the patio. He makes a hard right turn down the steps, then two hard lefts to head toward our neighbors. They have two dogs, which Bo loves, but he barks incessantly to encourage them to come outside. When they do come out, he barks as he and Harley race up and down our fence line.

It all seems innocent enough and in the large scheme of things it is. However, he has really torn out our grass with his two hard left turns. He has worn a path all the way to the fence line. He has torn out two bushes and destroyed a sprinkler head with the race along the fence. I also worry that he bothers the neighbors with the barking. I’d love to break that habit. I’ve tried scolding him to no avail. I’ve purchased a noise making device to break his concentration. Again, it doesn’t have any affect.

It occurred to me that maybe my behavior is like Bo’s. I have a routine as well, and with the changes in business based on the pandemic, my routine isn’t working. I really can’t blame it on the pandemic. I have a propensity to want new challenges all the time and I want them fast and furious. It can lead to unskillful use of my strengths.

I was fortunate to meet Kimberle Nagle from Upgrow Business International at a recent conference I attended. Kim and I struck up a friendship and met over video conferences a few times. She has helped me see somethings that I was blind to. She asked great questions and forced me to look deeper into the “why” I do what I do. The first area she questioned me on was patience. I have very little. I want to do everything fast. What drives that? I’m still working on the answer, but it reminded me of my brother telling me years ago to “Slow down to speed up.”

I really need to break my impatience habit. Kim suggested I replace it with another habit. I took her up on it. I list my intentions for the year, and the intentions for the week and day. She suggested I turn those intentions into a “nonnegotiable”. I love the idea and today I revisited my intentions and picked 3 nonnegotiable actions, annually, weekly and as of today: daily. One day in a row so far, and I’m working on replacing an unskillful habit with a skillful habit. Now if I could just get Bo to work on a different habit. Let me know if you have any ideas on how to do that one…

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