Watching our new puppy sleep has helped me remember that sometimes people don’t need or want the help we feel compelled to offer.
Our puppy seems to alternate between two modes—unbridled energy or complete lethargy. My daughter has been doing a great job of taking him out regularly and making sure that he gets the exercise that he needs, as well as ample opportunity to do his business outside. I have often come upstairs and found him asleep on the hardwood floor.
At first, this would bother me somewhat. I would feel some amount of guilt that I was making the dog sleep on something so uncomfortable when I had better options available. However, we got him a bed and put it right in the spot where he usually rests. A wider version of the same picture shows how close he is to the bed, even as he is sleeping on the floor.
I realized that I can’t force him to be more comfortable, and don’t need to take that on. If I have provided the environment, I need to step back and allow him to make his own decision. Not only does he not need the help I want to give, he doesn’t even want it. He has made his choice and I need to respect that.
As a parent or a manager, it is so easy to fall into this same trap. We see someone doing something that seems suboptimal or tedious, and feel like we need to step in and fix the situation. Most of the time, what the person has chosen is either the way that they like to do it, or just a natural step in their required learning progression. We need to care about people enough to give them space to make their own decisions, and then allow them to learn and grow from the natural consequences of those decisions.
This ties into one of my 2019 goals—be curious. Instead of having expectations about how a situation should go, I want to be curious about how it actually is going. Often, there are lessons I need to learn which will come through observing and learning. Here’s to hoping I can let puppies sleep on hardwood floors more regularly.