Puppies and Leadership? Seriously?

Who would have thought that raising newborn puppies would be a leadership exercise? Lucky and Ducky (Ducky shown here), were abandoned at birth and left in the cold for 48 hours before being discovered by the folks at the SEMO Humane Society. The volunteer base went into high gear and the litter of eight were distributed overnight until permanent foster homes could be found. By day 4 of their young lives, these 8 pups endured unspeakable conditions. No food, no warmth, no mother…just a wet box with an old towel in it.

When Lucky and Ducky came into my care at day 4 of their lives, I was warned that they may not live. Vulnerable and compromised, these little angels were tucked into my life and are my mission for the next 8 weeks. It is a humbling responsibility

Four hour feedings, working to keep their elimination systems functioning, keeping them warm, clean and comfortable has been my sole focus for the last week. I have never experienced anything more rewarding. I remember shedding a tear the first time the puppies took a bottle and whimpered as the formula hit their empty tummies and growled in response.

I was angry, sad, hopeful, fearful, challenged and determined. These are the feelings that drive any good leader when each emotion is embraced for their positive aspects. Out of the grieving for the compromised conditions of these puppies, came the joy to see them achieve their potential and thrive. Isn’t that the job of every leader to make sure that the team s/he serves thrives?

Shouldn’t we look at a team as a group of persons that we can build into a collective consciousness which can overcome not only obstacles placed before them, but achieve mutual goals? As leaders, we worry about our team members because we want them to succeed. We should cherish the accomplishments and suffer the setbacks together, so that when we meet our mutual goals, we do so in the spirit of camaraderie and respect.

Too often personal agendas can muddy the waters of accomplishment and good team members are lost to other positions or careers. As leaders of a team, it is our responsibility to put our personal agendas aside for the good of our team members, colleagues and mission. Maybe that’s unrealistic, as I’ve recently accepted that all Disney stories are fairy tales, but leadership doesn’t have to be. If you want to be treated well, then treat others well. If you want respect, then respect others. Not everyone will be nice to you or have your best interestes at heart, but as long as you keep centered and do what you can to help others, you will help yourself.

Lucky and Ducky have taught me that there is something much more important than mundane life. They have taught me that helping someone else is a thousand times more important than any petty worries I may have.

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