A good leader is…? There are many adjectives to describe what a good leader is or how a good leader should be. All of which are opinions and are based on the person you speak with. Leadership is an Art, and there is a lot of room for interpretation and creation. Leaders, however, are not perfect and will make many mistakes throughout their lives, but a great leader is self-aware of her/his misgivings and will make a concerted effort to grow from their mistakes.
I am continually reminded that I still have a lot of growth to achieve. One such teaching moment happened this morning. On several occasions, we have had a random dog show up at our house and caused quite an amount of raucous because his presence gets our dogs going crazy. The barking and growling carries on and will not stop. It is maddening. This dog has been left to wander around in the middle of the night causing us to lose precious sleep. I believed that the poor dog had been abandoned in the neighborhood and on couple occasions I have contacted animal control to come and take care of him. I finally thought that we were in the clear until he returned this morning. I created a story surrounding this animal and about the situation. I built this gigantic tale about the dog and about his horrible owners here in the neighborhood. It is evident that the dog lived in the community because he was back, again. I began to blame the owners. I made the assumption that the owners were deliberately allowing this animal to roam the neighborhood and didn’t care what problems it was causing. I was MAKING myself upset. I was getting angry about this animal and the situation without knowing what the real story was. I made it all in my head.
As I was yelling at this dog to “get out!” and “go home,” I heard the voice of an elderly lady. She was yelling out a name, and I could tell that she was distraught. The lady was calling out for her dog, that same dog that had been causing us such grief. I went to her and asked if she was missing a black dog. With tears in her eyes, she said, “yes.” “That dog has given me so much trouble. Animal control has fined me twice for him getting loose.” She had stated that she had been fined $120 by the city and didn’t know what to do. She cannot afford to pay the fines. The dog would get away from her when she would try to take him out to pee and runoff. I could see the frustration on her face and felt her emotion. I made her wrong, I created a narrative without knowing and was reacting. I didn’t know her story or her situation.
Why am I telling this story? I think that many of us will create stories in our head, as in my case, we act on or allow ourselves to be affected by this made up crap. Yes, it is crap because it isn’t based on any fact. It’s baseless imagination which in turn creates an adverse reaction. This situation was a wake-up call. I realized that I need to be more cognizant of my thoughts and how I perceive what is actually happening. I cannot change my actions, but I can learn from them. What I learned today is how easy it is for me to make a story up and how it is even easier to allow my thoughts to dictate how I react. This is not a new challenge for me, as my partner has reminded me of this before. However, it is a renewed opportunity for me to review and commit to change.
That poor lady has her own circumstances and life challenges, and I had no right to make her wrong.
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