BEST IN THE CLASS
In my Competition Obedience Dog Training class I was finding it challenging to help certain members of the group to believe in themselves and in their abilities. Most of my little group were reasonably positive and could be encouraged to strive for the best in themselves and in their dogs. But these other few handlers were not just negative, they were difficult. Difficult to motivate and difficult to teach. Everything in the world, it seemed, was against them.
Whenever I pointed to the things their dogs did especially well these handlers were ready to quickly point out all the things the dogs could not do well. As far as they were concerned they had the worst possible dogs and they were the worst possible handlers. They were rapidly talking themselves into a deep hole out of which they would find it impossible to climb. They were also in danger of contaminating the other members of the group who were out to give competition their very best shot and to do their best with their dogs.
I knew that there would be enough people beating down on them and on their dogs whenever these novices began to compete in the ring. They needed very much to build up their belief in themselves and to take every opportunity to do so.
“When we speak negatively about ourselves or about our dogs or our abilities the first one to hear those negative messages is us. We damage ourselves and our opportunities through our own words!” I consistently told the class.
I reminded the members of the group that it was important that they should believe in themselves and that they consistently tell themselves that they were the best at what they did.
One day I noticed that one of the class members was wearing a screamingly bright red sweatshirt bearing the word “BEST” on the front. It was a George Best Manchester United football sweatshirt and it had Best’s famous number seven on the back of it. I decided to lead by example…..
“Where did you get the sweatshirt?” I asked the trainee.
“Oh, I got it when I was over at Old Trafford”, the trainee replied.
“Could you get me one?”
“Sure I could. But I didn’t think you were a Man. U. Fan?”
“I’m not” I said “It’s just that I want to be able to go into the competition ring with my dog and with the word “BEST” on my front!”
Never miss an opportunity to build yourself up.
The group could not be sure how serious I was. Surely I could not be that big headed? Surely I was joking?
They certainly would not be seen dead wearing a bright red shirt with the word “BEST” stamped on it.
“I definitely wouldn’t wear that!” smiled one of them.
“And is it the colour or is it the message that bothers you?” I asked her.
No, some people in that class would not feel comfortable in a shirt that shouted out such a blatantly positive word. But perhaps they felt some hope in knowing that they had a teacher who believed it was worth doing so.
When we are training in any sphere it is essential that we do not negate our efforts through negative thoughts about ourselves. We must consistently do all in our power to keep high our own belief in ourselves and in our abilities. We should welcome any opportunity that makes us feel positive about ourselves. Even if that means donning a bright red George Best sweatshirt.