Uncomfortable Inexperience

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like not knowing things. As a naturally curious person, I tend to learn about whatever is in front of me, even when it shows signs of me aging. For example, last week my brother-in-law, Tom, and I talked about body stiffness, stretching, birds, rainfall totals, death, socioeconomics, and other OGDT (Old Guy Discussion Topics). If you’re reading this thinking, “I hope to NEVER get that old!” Trust me, I thought the same thing not too long ago, but I digress.

 

My inexperience

Needless to say, I’ve actually read about these topics, so I have some perspective on each. However, one thing that truly trumps reading about something is having actual experience with it. I’ve been reminded of this fact recently with bringing Charlie Murphy home. As I have shared throughout our “Uncomfortable Series” I worked hard to prepare for getting a dog. I read books and educated myself so I would know how to handle the situation. However, my wife, Michele, had a dog growing up and a puppy as an adult. My education doesn’t touch her experience.Michele doesn’t get rattled when Charlie “puppies out”. She calmly responds, “He’s just being a puppy.”

For example, I thought it would be okay to let Charlie have water right before putting him in his kennel. Michele is borderline neurotic about asking if he’s gone out to go potty after drinking. Her rationale is based on his age and her experience. Well, after a few accidents, I’ve learned that she’s not neurotic. She’s really wise. His bladder is the size of an acorn (not sure if that’s accurate but you get the point), so we need to regulate his water intake prior to him being confined in his kennel. In hindsight, it was true ignorance on my part, but I’ve learned that lesson now.

Experience in action

One experience advantage for me was Tuesday night’s sleep fight. Charlie was truly rambunctious with excessive puppy energy 15 minutes before bedtime. When my children were like this, I would take them for a car ride or walk to calm them down. However, there’s a fine line between tiring a child out and them becoming over-tired. For the uninitiated, over-tired is a combination of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), Rebel Without a Cause, and Let’s Go Crazy by Prince.

To get his energy out, I took Charlie for a 10-minutes walk hoping this would get him sleepy before going to bed. After returning from our walk, Charlie was MORE amped up then when we left in the first place. So, that obviously didn’t work. Totally undeterred, I took him to his kennel for the night and eventually got him inside. While inside his crate, he would not settle down. Patiently, I sat there watching him pace, whine, and whimper reassuring him with a light, “Shhh”, until he eventually laid down a full 3-4 minutes longer than it usually takes. But, in true over-tired fashion, Charlie did everything in his power to keep his eyes open. I’m laughing inside thinking, “Why don’t you stop fighting this and just go to sleep?” Needless to say, his eyelids won.

Side note: He’s chasing his tail right now. I haven’t been able to catch it on video yet, but when I do, you’ll be the first to see it. ­čÖé

Some great advice

The best experience advice I got was from a neighbor a few doors down. She advised me that I shouldn’t listen to everyone’s advice (and yes, I get the irony of that sentence). Her perspective was that I needed to understand my temperament and the temperament of my dog and then apply the advice I’ve been given accordingly.┬áThis is something I definitely took to heart.

For example, Michele and I decided NOT to allow Charlie in the bedroom with us or the girls from day one. We decided to have him sleep on the other side of the house in a crate right from the start to prevent a situation where he likes sleeping with us, we like sleeping with him, he starts snoring, we have to trade him in for a puppy statue, and I’ve wasted all these blog topics on a dog statue.

Now some dog parents advised us to keep Charlie in a crate in our room to ease the transition to our house. In hindsight after a week, Charlie now sleeps through the night on his own on the other side of the house. Were the first nights hard? Yes. Did my wife want to rescue him from his loneliness? Yes. Did we choose to be uncomfortable than for a now peaceful night’s sleep for hopefully the next 10-12 years? YES! No issues for those who choose another route, we just took the advice that was best for us.

You can benefit from the experience of others

In the end, I’m still not comfortable with being inexperienced. As leaders though, the reality is that we can never be experienced for our future growth. It’s only in hindsight that we gain the experience needed to be comfortable. This can either be a frustrating paradox or a peaceful realization. In the end,┬áhaving someone experienced on my team makes me just as experienced if I choose to take their advice. Duly noted Michele!

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