Recently I was riding my bike along the wooded path my husband and I have built on our property. It’s not a long ride at this point – much less than a mile – and so I tend to ride in circles and figure eights, frontwards and backwards, in an effort to get a workout without getting bored.
I’ve learned that my two dogs are not equally suited to joining me on my afternoon rides. My Border Collie always starts the ride with me, but as we begin our second lap she soon realizes she can cut corners and wait for me, or better yet, cut bait and go straight home to wait on the porch. She’s willing to go for part of the journey, but she’s not wholeheartedly committed.
My elderly Labrador Retriever, on the other hand, is such a people-pleaser that he would run himself into the ground following my every step. He struggles to keep up at times, but refuses to stop and wait or to sit out a single lap.
It occurred to me, on a recent ride, that coaches encounter people of similar disposition in our daily effort to create change. Some of the teachers we work with are eager to please and will try much that we ask them to with very little complaining. They’re open to new experiences and are optimistic, and yet we need to be careful not to ask too much of them for fear of running them ragged.
Other teachers are more like my Collie: cautiously optimistic, but quick to head back home as soon as it looks like our efforts at change are regressing and becoming circular in nature. If we can show what’s in it for them, they’ll stick with us. Otherwise, they’ll leave us to do the work while they watch from the sidelines.
And then there are the cats. They refuse to follow at all, but create their own path. Some of them are housecats and are perfectly comfortable sitting in the windowsill taking a nap. We could tie a rope to our bike and drag them along, but the cat would not be convinced and we’d each most likely end up nursing serious wounds.
What’s the lesson I learned? Perhaps this: take care not to ask too much of your Labradors, demonstrate to your Collies what’s in it for them, and never take a cat on a bike ride.