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What My Dog Taught Me About Failure

Our younger dog, Sasha, is a 70-lb. German Shepherd. We got her when she was 3 months old, and she has always wanted to please. She is great with kids and is really sweet... except around other dogs.

At our old house, she would lunge at the front window when other dogs walked by (and there were quite a few on a normal day). When walking her in a our urban neighborhood, I would often change directions on seeing other dogs, so she would not lunge and bark. And I would typically walk her in the late evening to reduce the likelihood of running into other dogs.

Our misbehaved dog caused me a lot of stress. While I think some of my back pain came from her pulling so much, it was the embarrassment of not having my dog under control that was the real stressor. What would other people think of this lousy dog owner who could not control his dog?

Last year, we finally hired a dog trainer to help us get her walking under control. The real impetus was so that our boys would be able to walk the dog safely. The change has been unbelievable. She is now a joy to walk. It is now other dogs who are more likely to bark at us.

And I can hear it in their owners’ voices as they try to control their dogs. I can hear the embarrassment. However, I don’t really care about their dog barking, as long as it is on a leash.

What this taught me about failure is that most of the embarrassment I imagine is all in my head. Others do not really care, unless they have a stake in the failure as well. People are busy living their own lives and whether you succeed or fail is of no real concern to them.

Have you let the fear of embarrassment keep you from trying something where you might fail? I know I have. The embarrassment of failure has been a big deal in my head, probably since middle school. That was when failure was very public. However, even then, most of my peers forgot about a failure soon after it happened. They could only embarrass you if you let them.

If you are letting a fear of the embarrassment of failure hold you back, you can let it go. I know that I have (at least most of the time). Most people are too busy to notice. And even if they do, their memories are short. They will have forgotten about it long before you do.

This is message #17 in 21 Days of Authenticity. If that would like to receive the rest of the 21 Days of Authenticity via email, please click here to sign up

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