I did not grow up with dogs – my Mom was a cat person and we had a succession of very cute cats, all of them with vaguely French sounding names. Names like Mitzi and Shatuna. My Mom is a neat freak and dogs did not fit into her sense of cleanliness. I liked the cats but I found their personalities to be rather bland. I never developed much of an attachment to any of them though I did develop allergies to cats.
When I met my fiancee, she informed me that she was a package deal – Dutch was a part of the bargain. Dutch is a great looking 60lb pitbull. Pitbulls get a bad rap because unscrupulous owners train them to be mean but Dutch is an incredibly gentle and kind “little guy” – incredibly well trained and disciplined. My fiancee taught Dutch well but having lived with Dutch, I’m realizing that Dutch has taught us several life lessons as well.
- Forgiveness – Make Dutch wait around for his morning or evening walk and he’ll start to get grumpy. After all, we’re making him hold it in. But the second we get outside, all is forgiven. He does not hold a grudge. But he’s not naive – treat him truly badly and he simply won’t be your friend. He knows to forgive those who love him and to avoid those who don’t.
- Exercise and fresh air make the day better - Dutch can’t really go a day without getting a good walk in. The fresh air and the exercise serve him extremely well. I find that I’m the same way. It’s an incredibly simple thing but so powerful. We are, after all, physical beings as much as we are intellectual and emotional ones.
- Live in the moment – Dutch does not worry about the future. If it’s sunny out, he lies down in the living room and spends the day there – enjoying the sun beaming through the windows. If it’s cold and grey out, under the covers he goes. At the beach, he rolls around with no restraint. He chases the ball as if it’s his last. When you worry about the future, your life becomes worrying. You spend all that time worrying about things that might happen so your life becomes not the bad things that might go wrong but rather the worrying about those bad things. Fear and worry are paralyzing. (Entrepreneur Mike Lazerow wrote a great post about this)Overcoming them – sometimes easier said than done – opens up great possibilities. It’s critical to enjoy the path – it’s the whole point as has been said. I’ve found that reaching the goals, as enjoyable as it is, is a fleeting event. It lasts a day or a week, maybe even a month. Having reached some goal I’ve set for myself, I’m proud and happy. But the moment is short. Ultimately, the moment of goal achievement, while great, is not life – life is the time in between the milestones. And if that’s not fun and satisfying, it makes for a painful life. All those moments along the way need to be interesting and enjoyable.
- We need real friends and partners - Dutch would not last long without us taking care of him. And without him, we’d have a big hole in our lives. It’s a a great partnership – we need and benefit from each other. At the office I’m fortunate to have genuine partners. We support each other unequivocally. We complement each other. When one of us is down, the others pick us up. We come to better answers when we’ve all had the chance to think about it. Around each other, we are free to be our true selves – with no restraint or worry. I’ve seen entrepreneurs who don’t have the support of true partners. It’s a much harder life to live. Entrepreneurial life can be pretty tough – a series of emotional ups and downs. Find and keep true partners. It changes everything.