Circle of Influence

I tend to be very reactive. I am driven by my feelings and opinions. I would like to be more proactive.

In Stephen Covey’ s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People he speaks of working within a “Circle of Influence;” an area where we are in direct control of the situation, where we can deal with problems involving our own behavior.

Last night, I found myself getting very agitated during a telephone discussion. I was smart enough to end the discussion before I got out of hand and elected to keep myself distant from the situation because, even though I feel like I’m involved, there’s nothing I can do about it.

According to Covey, if I can remain within my circle of influence, I will become more effective and the more effective I become, my circle of influence will expand.

Covey suggests visualization. Peak, athletic performers are visualizers. I can visualize where I want to be with my dogs. Why burn energy worrying about what other people are doing?

Covey also discusses habits of interdependence. Rather than being dependent upon other people, or trying to be totally independent, we must learn how to be more effective by effectively working with others. That one is a hard one for me. Covey states: “Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players. ” That is incredibly true of me.

Ah, today, I promised that I’d help Wally work Kessie. I don’t want to do it. I really don’t care to spend time around that dog. To me, she’s all that’s wrong with dogs and Border Collies in general. But Wally does a lot for me and he has expressed an interest in learning how to train Kessie to be a stock dog. While Kessie is impeccably bred as a stock dog, she’s not healthy enough (mentally) to be a successful stock dog and Wally’s been doing fly ball with her and that type of training is going to be detrimental to how she needs to be on stock. I’ve seen a huge difference in how she is around stock since she’s begun fly ball. The two sports do not go together. Kessie is going to be a phenominal fly ball dog and I’d much rather he just stuck to that, which he may do once he realizes how much work and discipline is involved in training a stock dog.

Just yesterday we set one set of drive/fetch panels in the back field. Right after they were set, I was practicing with Gel and he was very obviously blowing me off. Because I have the bad habit of giving wrong flank commands, sometimes give him the benefit of the doubt and allow one additional redirect if he doesn’t take the flank command I give immediately. Yesterday, he was ignoring my second flank command. I ran across the field after him. That’s all it took. After I did that, he took whatever command I gave the first time. The dog has to know that if he doesn’t obey your commands, if he is two feet or two hundred yards away from you; you are going to come after him and enforce that command.

The last time I worked Kessie I put her in a lie down and walked out to the stock to prevent her from slicing in too close to the stock on her outrun. Every time I got a few feet away from her, she got up and started on her outrun. I walked back, but her were I set her the first time, told her to stay and walked towards the stock. After the third time I set her back in position, Kessie went to Wally. Again, I went and got her, put her back and told her to lie down. Finally she did what I wanted. I wasn’t mean about it, Kessie is extremely soft, but she knows what lie down and stay mean and I was going to make sure she listened to me.

Before fly ball, Kessie was too wide while on stock. I was amazed the first time I put her on stock after she had been doing fly ball, she ran straight up the middle of the field to them. Prior to fly ball, I didn’t have to lie her down and walk to the stock to make sure she stayed wide off them, she did it on her own.

This may not be related to fly ball, but I believe it is. Consider what is involved in the fly ball game: the dog must run straight up the alley, jumping several low jumps on the way, pounce on the box, get the ball and right straight back up the alley to the handler. The dog becomes very, very focused on the ball. Kessie is very ball-driven and stock-driven, why should she take the extra care to cast out where she should be when she can take the shortest path to what she wants, straight up the middle? I am glad Wally is doing fly ball with Kessie as he enjoys it and Kessie needs something to do. We’ll see if she can’t do stock work for him as well.