Working Like a Dog – Seriously?

As I sit in my office working this morning, I am buzzing away because it is so quiet and peaceful. Realizing that it is quiet and peaceful makes me look around because in my house quiet is normally not a good thing – first with kids now with my little pack of dogs. Looking around there are five sleeping dogs in my office. And the phrase, “Work like a dog” flashes in my head.

Obviously my pack is not the inspiration for this saying, actually I wondered where it came from and why so I looked it up. Oh yes, that is me. I am very inquisitive to the point that I have on my phone so I can look up words when away from my computer. Again, I like the color of the sky in my world.

Anyway, apparently the origin is that dogs used to be working dogs, like Huskies for sled dogs or sheep dogs for herding. These creatures worked dawn til dusk just for a bit of food and maybe a pat on the head. The theory is that some employers expect the same of their employees. I’ve met a couple so I would agree. Looking around at five sleeping dogs (I really just can’t get over this) I think they all would have little doggie-strokes if I told them they were expected to work just for food. We won’t even go there with the treats.

My dogs are spoiled and absolutely domesticated being all indoor dogs. The girls have little fits if they have to go out in the rain to do their business, seriously. It’s okay, I kick them out in the rain anyway because I’m mean that way.

So this train of thought led to my kids, and everyone else’s kids for that matter. There are some very wonderful young men and women out there, I know because I’ve met a few. There are more of the “other” kind and that just annoys and frightens me.

You know these kids, they expect what they want just because they want it, they have no idea how to do simple math because they have Excel, they don’t know how to spell because they have spellchecker (no stones there, thank goodness for spellchecker, I am a terrible speller!), they want instant gratification and lose focus immediately. If their cell phone dies they are lost in the world, can’t figure out how to make a phone call or get direction.

They think because they thought about doing something it is good enough. We are to blame for this, it is the generation of trophies-for-trying and it is disturbing. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard something to the effect of “Well, I thought about doing it” and that is their so-called effort so they should not be held accountable for a task not being completed. Yeah, well, I’ve had lots of thoughts about Christian Kane, the actor that plays Eliot Spencer on Leverage but you don’t see any of those coming to fruition.

I think sometimes we are so immersed in world of all the little trophies-for-trying who are becoming legal to drink, smoke and vote that we adopt their attitude ourselves. I mean, hey, it works for them. To that I say “Grow up!” Taking responsibility is hard, it takes work and effort and sometimes you don’t get jack-squat for it but guess what, you do it anyway. Kids are amazed when I give them this little piece of insight during workshops. They look at me like, “What do you mean we have to work for something with no guarantee that we will get what we want?” Kind of like the look my dogs give when I tell them to go outside, “but why, we can sleep better in your office!”

If you find yourself frustrated at something not going your way I suggest that you take a step back and give an honest evaluation of your efforts. Are you putting effort in the task or expecting it to happen simply because you want it to? If you answered the latter than I suggest you get off your butt and stop waiting for someone to hand you a trophy for thinking about it. There is no greater reward or more empowering feeling for accomplishing something that you worked really hard for – truly worked. No trophy can compare to that.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Polish, Inc.

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