Have you ever tried to take away a food bowl from an eating dog? If you do not have a relationship with that dog built on love and trust, anyone who has attempted this can surely share their pain and probably even show you the bite mark scars left behind as a lesson that was probably never forgotten or repeated.
As most of you know by now, I typically write this column each week based on a recent event or observation. Well my above mentioned reference came from a personal experience with my own dogs yesterday. With the thunderstorms and hail storms, I had gotten delayed and tied up away from home longer than anticipated. So by the time I had arrived home to feed my little guys, they were starving for sure.
I filled and placed their bowls into their familiar spots and they hungrily started devouring their food. They were so ravenous that they soon pushed their partially eaten bowls under the counter and were trying to eat with their heads tilted sideways to reach their meals. Without hesitating I leaned over and gently pulled their bowls out from under the counter, they never missed a bite, never growled or snarled, and I could swear I caught a little thankful glance from both puppies as they comfortably continued eating.
Now I know many of you reading this have dogs and love them dearly and you receive that same love in return with every walk, cuddle, lick and shared meal and snack. But I also know many people, myself included, who have made the mistake of petting a dog, taking away food or moving too fast only to be bitten. I actually had a hungry German shepherd take a bite out of my cheek once as I was eating a cupcake, apparently he liked chocolate cake and vanilla frosting too, and silly me for not sharing.
As I thought about my own dogs, though, I was reminded that earning trust, building trust and maintaining trust takes time and commitment. I have had my dogs for more than four years and have loved on them and spoiled them just like many of you do with your own pets. And then I thought about it a little deeper, what about my family and friends? Have I put in that same level effort of spoiling and loving on them to earn and build that trust? And yes, loving on them to build that trust could include some “tough love” to avoid one-sided love or one-sided commitments.
I am reminded of the old question, “How often should we tell our spouse we love them?” Many people try and answer this in several ways, “Every day,” “As often as you can,” “10 times a day” and other very close guesses. The real answer is this, “Before someone else does!” Well what about our other family members and close friends, how often should we tell them we love them? How about our customers, how often should we tell them we love them? And what about our employees and even employers, would it make sense to ask ourselves how often we should tell them we love them? And the answer to all of the above is, “Before someone else does.”
There are many ways to earn, build and maintain trust like consistent and honest communication, respect, gratitude and appreciation, and so many more. And there are certainly too many more to cover in one brief column. But love, mutual love, demonstration of love, unconditional love, appreciation of love and pure love would be an awesome place to start as we look to earn, build and maintain trust. It will also provide us with some protection from small bites and big bites as we may have to move that proverbial bowl of food from time to time from someone very close to us, whether they are the four legged kind or human.
I would love to hear your “tail” or “tale” of love and trust at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as we fill our days with both, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of www.candogo.com. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.