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Training Dogs and People

Even if you don’t have a dog, you just might learn something about leadership, your own self-development, and training humans from this newsletter, so please humor me on this one.

As a life-long dog person and someone who’s been deeply involved in dog sports all my adult life, you might guess that dog training is something I’ve done a lot of, and you’d be right. I’ve trained my own dogs, as well as worked with people to train their dogs to show in conformation competition, which is what you see when you watch the Westminster Kennel Club, the National Dog Show and the AKC National Championship dog shows on TV.

I’ve also worked with people and teams, coaching and consulting, teaching mental wellbeing, team dynamics, leadership, and communication skills. What I’ve discovered is that when training people and when training dogs, many of the same skills are needed.

Many people add a furry family member during the winter holidays, live with the...

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Welcome to the Last Day to Party - Sort Of

Today is the day when Louisiana blooms, not with bougainvillea's riotous blossoms, but with partying people, parades and portable adult beverages. Today is the last day before Lent begins, the final day of the Mardi Gras season, and it’s traditionally a day for gluttony of all sorts before the Christian season of atonement and deprivation starts. Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival Tuesday and Pancake Tuesday are some of the names this day gets called.

  • Mardi Gras is Fat Tuesday in French.
  • Carnival Tuesday is a pretty good description of life in the over 50 countries where the weeks before Lent are a big, decadent blow-out of a public party.
  • Pancake Tuesday is the day people prepared for Lent by cooking and eating all the things they couldn’t have during lent. Things like butter, eggs, milk …mmmmmmmm, pancakes…
  • Shrove Tuesday is a day of repentance before the Lenten season begins. From the looks of the parties being held in celebration of Mardi Gras,...
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Why Yes, Today IS Valentine's Day - How Could You Tell?

If you’ve seen a billboard, heard a radio or TV commercial, been inside a store or even just poked your nose outside your front door in the last week, then you already know what today is. Did you know that, in addition to Valentine’s Day, it’s Galentine’s Day, Madly in Love with Me Day, International Flirting Week and National Week of Chastity? Heck, I’m feeling a bit whiplashed with those last two happening at the same time, aren’t you?

This day is fraught with so many emotions and expectations. For happy couples, it’s a celebration of their connection and commitment to each other, wrapped in feelings of love and joy. For unhappy couples, it’s a reminder of what they once had and don’t have now, and that can bring with it sadness, despair and a feeling of letting loved ones down. For those who aren’t part of a couple, it can feel like they’re an outcast in a sea of togetherness and aren’t living up to societal...

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Yet Another Thing that Needs Lifting and Boosting...Sheesh!

Could your self-esteem use a boost, and just how the heck could that be accomplished? Let’s talk about that this week.

This month is International Boost Self-Esteem Month, intended to shine a light on just how tough most of us are on ourselves. If you grew up hearing phrases like, “don’t blow your own horn” and “don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back” then maybe you think it’s not OK to recognize and appreciate your strengths, talents and abilities. If you live or work with someone who is constantly belittling you, perhaps you’ve come to believe in their opinion of you instead of your own. And maybe, like most people, you feel pretty good about yourself most of the time and now and then doubts creep into the dark corners of your mind, gutting your self-esteem for a little while, until you regain your mental balance.

High self-esteem, not to be confused with egotism or sociopathic tendencies, is a healthy regard for who...

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The Time to Plan is Now

It’s the last day of the first month of the new year. And it’s cold. OK, it’s winter and it’s supposed to be cold. Seriously, Mother Nature – 18 in Maine, 4 in North Dakota and minus 1 in Minnesota? The freezing temperatures are coast to coast, north to south, and make me want to hibernate. You, too? Then today is the perfect day to cuddle up to your computer and plan a vacation!

On this National Plan for Vacation Day, let’s look at how a perk at work gets treated like a jerk. Over half of Americans don’t take all their paid time off from work. They have the benefit of vacation and personal days, in addition to sick days, and yet they don’t take full advantage of the benefit.

That, in spite of the fact that in the most recent comprehensive study of vacation time as a benefit, 63% of workers said a generous paid time off package was a deciding factor in whether or not they would accept a job offer. Clearly we want to be offered vacation...

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I'd Like to Compliment You on Your Complimenting Skills!

Quick – when was the last time you gave someone a compliment? I hope it was sometime today, because today is National Compliment Day. Actually, I hope you’re in the habit of giving compliments. If not, keep reading, because giving compliments to others has many benefits for you!

Since smiling is a side-effect of compliments, let’s explore the power of the smile. When you smile, your brain releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, three of your body’s feel-good chemicals. Also, when you see someone smile, your brain releases those same feel-good neurotransmitters. If you need another good reason to smile more, researchers in Scotland found that people who smile and make eye contact are consistently ranked higher on the “attractiveness” scale.  But wait – there’s more! (No, I’m not turning into an infomercial…promise!) Noted aging and development researcher Ernest L. Abel studied 196 baseball players and found that...

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I'd Like to Compliment You on Your Complimenting Skills!

Quick – when was the last time you gave someone a compliment? I hope it was sometime today, because today is National Compliment Day. Actually, I hope you’re in the habit of giving compliments. If not, keep reading, because giving compliments to others has many benefits for you!

Since smiling is a side-effect of compliments, let’s explore the power of the smile. When you smile, your brain releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, three of your body’s feel-good chemicals. Also, when you see someone smile, your brain releases those same feel-good neurotransmitters. If you need another good reason to smile more, researchers in Scotland found that people who smile and make eye contact are consistently ranked higher on the “attractiveness” scale.  But wait – there’s more! (No, I’m not turning into an infomercial…promise!) Noted aging and development researcher Ernest L. Abel studied 196 baseball players and found that...

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There are NO Broken People and Today We Celebrate!

Have you ever had an idea, brought it to fruition, and during its infancy you discovered that your idea was bigger than you knew? International We Are Not Broken Day began in 2019, so is still fairly new, as is the organization of the same name. The founder, Texan Nochola Cotto, intended it to be a day for women who’ve been touched by any sort of trauma to be heard and helped. The “we are not broken” part has resonated with so many people that observance of the day has spread to anyone who’s suffered any kind of trauma.

Amputees
PTSD sufferers
People with depression
Victims of violent crimes
People with diminished mental abilities
People who are “different” in any way

Just being outside of what humanity at large considers “normal” subjects people to all sorts of unintentional, and sometimes intentional, abuse. Attitudes about people with disabilities, whether mental, psychological or physical, can be quite harsh, and human beings can...

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In Praise of Peculiar People

Today, let’s celebrate peculiar people. It’s officially Peculiar People Day, though no one knows how this one got started or why. It seems to be a nod to a group of faith healers formed by Englishman John Banyard, “Peculiar People,” in 1838. Or maybe not – the two events simply share the words “peculiar” and “people.” The peculiar and slightly murky beginnings of this day make it peculiar enough to celebrate, though you know I’m going to dig a bit deeper for you, right?

While most of the world’s institutions, including family units, religion, schools, and governments work to enforce conformity and societal norms, it feels a bit rebellious to celebrate peculiar people. First, just who are these people we’re celebrating today? People like:

Albert Einstein.

Frida Kahlo.

The first woman to experiment with blue and purple dye in her hair.

Mark Zuckerberg.

Nikola Tesla.

That Chinese man who wore 140 pounds of bees as...

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How to Finally Ace Your New Year's Resolution...or Not!

Welcome to the first “official” workday of the new year. Around half of Americans make resolutions to start a new year, and of those, fewer than 10% will follow through and succeed at their newfound resolve. Of the other 90+ percent, most will quit this week. This.Week. Ouch!

Before you get all bummed out about the looming mass failure, let’s step back a bit and examine why the failure rate is so high. There’s interesting brain science involved, and I’ll make sure you’ll understand it perfectly.

The brain loves patterns. Humans can learn as fast and as much as we do because brains look for patterns, connect the dots, and voila! A new pattern is formed around the new information. That’s where language skills come from, math skills, driving skills…all the skills start out as a basic pattern the brain forms. If you’ve ever driven somewhere and realized that you don’t really remember driving because you were preoccupied with...

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