December 6, 2013 I lost one of my fur-babies; my oldest pup, Micki. She bound into my life as an eight week old ball of fur and was a constant companion over the next 13 and a half years. She was with me through some major battles in my life always at my side, always expressing her own personality and quite frankly, opinions on the status of the world.
She was an only dog for a long time then became the pack leader to two different packs. She was a force of nature. Although small in stature she kept a Great Pyrenees and Husky/German Sheppard in tow, and in her later years she was the matriarch for a Lab and Pit – both much younger, boys full of testosterone and energy. But she was always the leader. No question about it.
She was such a factor in my life that it has taken me this long to write about her. I still look for her throughout the day, still talk to her expecting to look over and see her facial expressions, listen to her sigh or talk in her own way.
I wasn’t the only one affected. My three remaining pups have had to adjust, too. Over the following month or two there was discord in my pack. The three year old Lab and four year old Pit were vying for pack leader position. The problem was, they didn’t know how to do it. They weren’t leaders, that was her job. My job was to help them through this transition without killing each other. Literally There were battles. Even the Puggle attempted to be pack leader, but once she saw the job, she decided she didn’t want the headache.
I did not realize how much I depended on her to keep the peace and help the structure of the day Without her the boys tried to realign things. It didn’t work. I don’t think it was a power play, just their anxiety about not having their animal leader there. She always set the tone – now what?
I see a similarity with some of my clients. They are now searching for something better or in the position of having to search for a job for the first time in a long time. The scenery has changed, it isn’t what it used to be.
When I was transitioning the pack I found the most important thing I could do was recognize and acknowledge each individual pup. They needed to know that everything was ok. You need to recognize and acknowledge your own fear, anger or trepidation about the unknown. It is natural and expected – let yourself feel it without regret or chastising yourself.
But do not linger. You must move forward. A blow has been dealt, but not a fatal blow. Once you let yourself get through the “this isn’t fair”, “this is unfamiliar” or the downright “this suck” then buck up. I had to set expectations and accountability on the remaining pack.
They were expected to continue with the appropriate behavior. Marking became an issue. I had to deal with it immediately with consequences. In chaos the opportunity for bad behavior to become a norm is ever present. You can get in a bad mood and stay there. You can feel angry and stay there. You can fight against the event that already happened and not allow yourself to move on. Stop peeing on the carpet!
Set goals, expectations and down time. Give yourself a chance to adjust but do not allow yourself to stop. Take a break and celebrate your success – no matter how small. Today’s success might be that you sent out a LinkedIn invitation to someone. Whatever it takes to keep moving forward. Next week the success might be that you went to a networking event and met five people. The following week it could be that you sent out a resume. Create your own schedule and goals and keep reminding yourself that you are moving forward.
We got over the marking stage. We kept the order in which we received treats to reaffirm consistency that they were comfortable with. We nipped bad behaviors in the bud and rewarded positive behaviors.
Two months later and the pack has settled in to their new place. There are still moments of vying for top spot, but that when I have to step in and remind them that even though their puppy pack leader is gone the truth remains – I am the pack leader. Always have been, always will be.
You are the master of your destiny – you are the pack leader. The last job may have ended abruptly or in bad fashion, but the truth is, you are still you. You still have value to offer. There is another day to get on to. Regain control and move forward.
Lisa K McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Brand Strategist & Career Coach