I love dogs. Often, when I'm introducing myself to a new client team, I share that my two favorite things are dogs and mountains. This weekend, we attended a social gathering and when we arrived, I noticed two dogs in a nice enclosure near the house. Of course, I headed that way - there were dogs. As I neared the enclosure I saw a sign that simply said “We Bite”. It didn’t deter me, it didn’t even slow me down, there were dogs!
I got to the enclosure and squatted down, the elder of the two barked over and over; not a vicious bark or a mean bark - but a consistent and repeated bark. We looked at each other and he calmed. I was doing all the right things, a non-threatening stance; a calm and confident approach; speaking softly. I eased the back of my hand toward him and he pushed his muzzle through the fence. He sniffed my hand, and touched his wet nose to me. And, I thought - “I got this, dogs love me” and then fast as lightning, he chomped my hand. I won’t say that it didn’t hurt, it did - but what really got me was the surprise of it, the unexpectedness of him biting my hand. (Unexpected? Yes, unexpected.)
I stood up and walked away, I promptly found my partner and tattled on myself. She responded with a very matter-of-fact “I know you saw that sign.” And, she was right. I had seen the sign, I had read the sign and made the clear choice to ignore that same sign. To be very honest, the incident made me consider what other “signs” I ignore.
Working with a coach helps me see these more clearly. It raises my awareness. As I pursue deeper levels of coach training, I’ve been working with a coach regularly myself. It’s very much like having an extra level of perception.
I still love dogs. I still want to pet all the dogs. And, I’d like to avoid being bitten - so I do think I’ll pay more attention to those signs.
What about you? Are there signs in your life that you choose not to see? Are you interested in learning to see them? Are you comfortable ignoring the signs and dealing with the bites?