Leading by Fergi – Lesson #2: Let me fail, I will succeed. Just trust me.
In the agility world, a significant amount of training time is spent on “handling.” Handling includes hand signals, body positioning, or other moves I use to show Fergi where we are going on the obstacle course; there is a variety of such signals, positioning and moves that all mean different things.
We recently learned a new move called the “jaakko” turn (rhymes with Paco; who comes up with these names anyway?!) It’s a great handling move that tells the dog, “Take the jump, but don’t jump too far in extension because we are headed back in the same direction,” and it can save a lot of time (2-3 seconds, which in agility is significant time). The key for my part in the jaakko is to signal it before Fergi has taken the jump, and the super key part is that I must keep running to the next obstacle. If I delay after the signal, Fergi ends up standing there, thinking, “Okay, where are we going next? Why are you waiting? Bark bark bark!” It all happens in seconds, so I must signal and GO – I can’t wait to see if she’s got it. I have to trust her.
Hmm. Trust her? But we are just learning this new move; what if she doesn’t get it? What if she fails?
All of a sudden my thoughts about “trust her” and “what if she fails” take me back to the office. It’s like handing off a project or task to someone when I’m not completely confident it will get done correctly (or my way J – sarcasm). I’ve learned that one of the best ways of building trust with others is extending trust to them in the first place (thanks, Stephen M.R. Covey!). Even when we think there might be a chance of failure, what a powerful message this sends to another: I’m asking you to do this. Take a risk. If it doesn’t go exactly as planned (or the way I would do it), I still trust you to do your best.
This approach may not apply to every situation, but it’s an important reminder to let go a little, stop trying to control life, ease up on the micromanaging, and let others do what they do. “Fail fast, succeed faster!”
By the way, Fergi executed the jaakko brilliantly!