My Dog Taught Me a Lesson That Isn't Being Taught Today

Hank is a white boxer (with a few brown spots), and he lives with us.

He loves to take naps on our couch. He eats his food at random times (sometimes he'll go a few days without touching his grain free chow).

He's probably 60% blind - he walks into things like the coffee table in the living room and he fetches his ball by smell and sound.

He goes poty on our fire-pit even though we tell him not to.

When Charlie (my wife) gets home from work, he acts like he hasn't seen her in three years - always spectacularly happy.

These are all things I've noticed about my dog over the years.

But yesterday, I noticed something different.

As I was wrapping up my early morning writing session, I got up and went downstairs to take a quick break. Hank was mid-dream in his nap on the office chair behind me as I proceeded to head downstairs.

He heard me and it woke him up.

He followed me.

Yesterday, I heard a new song that I liked, so during my break, I slapped in my ear buds and hit play. It got me moving a little bit.

I'm really good at bad dancing.

And then I looked over at Hank, who was just in slumber mode and sleepy eyed a few seconds ago, suddenly ramped up his state and matched my energy.

He started wiggling his nub of a tail. He jumped around a little bit. Then, he got in this stance with his head down, and butt in the air that screamed "I'm ready to play - whatya' got?"

I realized that Hank follows my lead.

For the rest of the day I noticed how he marched to the beat of my drum without resistance.

When it was time for a walk, he walked. When it was time to work, he left me alone and plopped on the office chair behind my desk. When I wanted to pet him and kiss him on the forehead, he allowed me to. When it was time to watch some TV, he laid on my chest. When it was time to workout in the garage, he was their by my side making sure everything was on par. 

You could say, I'm the leader in this relationship.

But I then also realized, I'm not the leader in every relationship in my life.

My director and editor at Tiger Fitness has set me up with a writer's dream.

Meaning, he gives me parameters to work within, but gives me room to create my best work. But at the end of the day, I'm following his lead. I meet deadlines. I have responsibilities to fulfill. I have standards of what I submit. I listen when he speaks. I make adjustments when he instruct me to.

I'm sold out with Tiger Fitness. I'm loyal to them. I'm committed.

In that relationship, I'm a follower.

There seems to be this romantic tone to leadership today. A lot of books, blogs and podcasts on the subject. At times it feels like a lot of incest of ideas on the subject.

Same ideas with different headlines - that sort of thing ya know?

But the message has a through-line of this: Everyone should be a leader.

To be fair, I agree. Somewhat.

You've got to lead yourself personally right? Like getting up in the morning to do your work. Or, studying your craft to sharpen your ax. Doing the push ups. 

You get it. 

But, to me the mainstream leadership message screams at us influencing that we should aim to all be CEO's or the founders of a non-profit companies that build water-wells in third world countries.

However, there isn't much stuff out there on being a good follower.

So we have tons of people who don't even want to be the CEO's or whatever but are pressured to forge that type of life because that is what's getting jammed down their throats.

But I think it's okay to be a follower.

In fact, we need followers like Hank. Loyal. Committed. Sold out.

Being a follower is noble. It's an invisible asset that you can't put a price on. Gary Hamel, an American business thinker and consultant said this: 

“From Gandhi to Mandela, from the American patriot to the Polish shipbuilders, the makers of revolutions have not come from the top."

Thanks Hank, for teaching me this lesson. You'll always be my boy.