Learn to Love Lifelong Learning

When I ‘googled’ the question, “What is a lifelong learner?”, I found this definition: “the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons”. Lifelong learners are motivated to learn and develop because they want to. They love to learn. It’s that simple.

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning

It seems silly to spell out the benefits, but for starters…you can never tell where your newly acquired expertise will lead you or where it will come in handy. Knowledge prepares you for opportunities when those opportunities come around. Then there’s the obvious advantage that learning keeps our brains active and engaged and this has cognitive benefits down the line. Why wouldn’t you want to pursue lifelong learning? Luckily, it really is easy to get engaged in lifelong learning.

dog-at-computer

online learning?


The Ease of Life Long Learning

The rise of online education has made lifelong learning a real possibility for everyone, no matter where or how you live. That’s because online learning lets you learn from home. Plus, you can take online classes at whatever time of day works best for you, keeping you in control of your schedule.

I’m taking an on-line agility course since I can’t get the kind of education I need where I live. On-line learning is pretty great; the ease, the community support, and the access to information whenever I need it. Ultimately it’s helping me be a better dog trainer. I finally understand how animals learn, how I learn, how I can improve not just my dogs agility skills but her strength, coordination and flexibility. It’s all encompassing. It’s access to knowledge I need, when I need it.

papers-on-table

never too much information

laptop-screenshot-of-agility-lesson

let the learning begin!

Don’t Stop Learning!

As dog training evolves, as we have access to more and more knowledge about how animals learn, I hope to be able to learn as much as I can. I want to continue to grow and learn. Because not only do I love learning all I can about dog training, I love being a lifelong learner.

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Leader of Dogs

I just finished reading an article on the behaviours that are common among the highest performing leaders in business. So I wondered, what if we defined a great dog trainer as if they were a great business leader?

What is “Being a Great Leader”?

1. They are a good coach

A good leader is a coach who avoids the trap of solving every problem for their dog as soon as it arises. They show guidance at the right time, letting their dog gain valuable experience along the way by enabling choice.

Dogs running

2. They create an inclusive environment, showing concern for success and well-being

They build trust in their dog. They create a safe place that develops a dog’s confidence. One where a dog is secure in knowing it won’t be punished for making a mistake.

3. They are productive and results-oriented

The best leaders make those around them better. They realize what their dogs are capable of, and they use emotional intelligence to motivate their dogs and help them realize their potential.

4. They are a good communicator–listens and shares information

Great leaders are great listeners–this enables understanding. A dog’s failure is valuable feedback to them. They also share what they know, realizing transparency is beneficial for success. Praise is purposeful, given at the right time and often. But they also don’t hold back from giving necessary feedback but making sure to frame it in a way that is constructive and easy to learn from.

Dog eyes

5. They have a clear vision/strategy for the team

Great leaders know where they’re going, they have a plan. They are careful to communicate criteria and have realistic expectations as to what specific actions are needed to be successful. They set their dog up for success.

Dogs running

It’s said that a leader with these qualities will help a team accomplish great things. But I’m convinced these same qualities apply to someone being a great dog trainer too.

Develop Your Passion (and not just in dog training)

Researchers propose people follow this advice: Don’t just “follow your passion”…because really, what does that mean anyway? They say you should “develop your passion” instead.

Sure seems like a realistic approach.

 

Developing passion is possible

Developing your passion entails working at it. It means you might suck at it at times. And it means the path might be difficult. But if you keep at it, you can achieve. If you take the time to do it, you encounter challenges, and over time, this builds commitment. That’s the key.

dog's bum during dog training

encountering challenges, obviously

“Develop your passion” is one piece of advice I can get behind. Even Bill Gates found his passion for software development at a young age, but he certainly had to develop it to build his Microsoft empire. The path to success entails putting in the time to get really good at something. Commitment builds passion.

dog during dog training

still working on our passion

I have a passion for dog training and I’m committed to developing that passion. It’s taking some time to do this and a whole lot of patience. But my commitment is my investment in my passion.

 

Developing passion isn’t always easy

So finding fulfilling work you’re passionate about is definitely achievable. Just don’t be so foolish as to think this will make every work day (or in my case every training day) a truly amazing and/or successful day. Even Oprah agrees, “Your job is not always going to fulfill you,” she told journalism graduates during her University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism commencement speech. “There will be some days when you just might be bored. Other days you may not feel like going to work at all. Go anyway.”

dog feet during dog training

this is getting frustrating

So when my training passion wanes, when I start feel bored, I think of how committed I am, how much I love to train my dogs and I do it anyway. I remind myself it’s my passion and it’s worth the time and the occasional tough day (‘at the office’).

dog during dog training

commitment pays off