old dogs new tricksThey say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. But “they” are wrong. You could say I’m a bit older dog and I am actually learning from dogs. How about you on life’s learning curve? How are you when it comes to receiving advice and corrective instruction? Are you more coach or critic when you pass along suggestions? Lately, I’ve been on the receiving end of pointers in my work and in my dog showing. Whew!

Some days it can feel like I’m hit with a firehose of details and try it this way. Or, with some people it’s do it my way . . . or else. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is challenging to keep an open mind and let others pour into your life. Often it is humbling to realize you may not have all the answers or there may be a better way to proceed. But I’m still willing to learn.

Coaching and Correcting

For example, last weekend at Raenie’s dog shows, I acquired several tips from dog handlers who have been raising and showing collies for decades. Was it a fun thrill to be pulled aside and shown how to hold my leash differently or stand differently or speed up with Raenie when we did our go-arounds? Uh … no, but once I realized my mentors were looking out for me and wanting me to do my best with 17-month-old Raenie, I could relax a bit and receive their help.

Raenie and I attend show conformation training classes, but every time you get in a live ring with other rambunctious young collies, anything can happen. Add the heat and wind on outside shows and everyone can get a bit tense. But you know what? Life overall is unpredictable. Our circumstances rarely line up entirely perfectly to our liking. This is when we find ourselves bending or breaking. Or in canine terms, bending or barking.

You, like me, face opportunities to receive coaching and correcting in our lives. Maybe it’s your boss. Or your spouse. Or your yoga instructor. Or your teen who shows you how to work your phone. How are you doing about trying something new and putting yourself under someone else’s tutelage? Do you bask in gaining new insights or do you bristle at feeling a tad newbie?

I know some people who refuse to travel to new destinations or take on a new skill because they feel like they will look foolish or dumb. Pashaw! Life is too short to worry about being a novice at something. Everyone must start somewhere. As one wise anonymous quote states, “The expert in anything was once a beginner.”

Albert Einstein once remarked, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” More recently, Steve Jobs advises, “Learn continually — there’s always ‘one more thing’ to learn!” Perhaps Michelangelo at age 87 said it best: “I am still learning.”

Still Learning

I am still learning. I hope you are too. I had to smile on Monday morning after my weekend of collies and correction. I opened my June Our Daily Bread in my morning devotions and ran across the message on the “kindness of candor.” The author shared how a friend pointed out a fault and it was hard to take in at first, but he knew the loving intent behind the advice.

Proverbs 27:9 says, “The pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” True friends don’t just tell us what we want to hear. Instead, these loyal companions guide us in learning something new because they want us to keep growing and developing to be our best.

So, are you ready to take on new adventures this summer? Are you willing to stay open to correction along the way? I have the perfect opportunity for you. Come join me at a dog show.

I’m practicing a new way to hold my leash and I’m working on my running speed. I’d be glad to pass on what I’m learning. Raenie would too. We’ll go easy with the new tricks.