It’s Ruff Changing Behaviors

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Just ask our office dog…

As some of you may know, not all of us at APA Solutions and WomanUP conferences walk on two legs. Our company mascot and conference advocate is Winston, a retired show dog who makes sure we all stay on track. He threatens to lick us to death if we don’t get our work done. Talk about a horrible bow-ss!

His owner and APA staffer Caitlin Pietz went away on a biking adventure for a week, and Winston had to stay at Camp Dogonnit! To put it simply, he had quite the ruff time being away from home. I suggest you put your food down before reading this…he had horrendous bouts of diarrhea brought on by stress-induced panic attacks. He could not get himself to relax to save his life. If only he had applied the skills he learned in our Self-Management and Personal Accountability class…he would have been able to manage his stress in a healthy way and become comfortable in this new environment…

Winston is just like us; he has graduated from APA Solutions popular EQ Series, and is now a self-aware emotionally intelligent pooch…or so we thought. He did not use his self-management strategies to persevere through this situation. Instead, he channeled his negative energy into creating a mess for the camp workers to clean up. If only he had checked in with himself, felt his anxiety coming on, and came to terms with it. He could have created a goal for himself: to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. He could have set a reminder in his Apple Collar™ to remember his goal. He could have rewarded himself with treats if he met his goal. He should have punished himself by depriving himself of treats since he did not meet his goal (or make one for that matter). He had to learn his lesson the hard way, Caitlin had to change his diet and now makes him practice relaxation techniques every day (see photo). The only way to truly cement something in your brain is through repetition. I’m sure next time Winston goes to Camp Doggonit (if they will have him) he will be able to use his new relaxation techniques to power through his restlessness.

Everyone has their bad days. You may lash out at a fellow co-worker because of something that’s bothering you at home. The best way to manage this stress is by improving your self-control. You can practice by identifying what you are feeling, making an honest determination of the underlying cause, and taking action to break the cycle of negative emotion. The first step is to always be honest with yourself and accept your emotions.

Winston’s stress was brought upon by change, and change is hard for the brain to accept. When you break down your goals into smaller, more-manageable items, they are easier to keep track of. Once Winston finishes his relaxation technique, Caitlin rewards him with a treat because that gives Winston the incentive to continue this practice. You need to reward yourself when you meet your goals as well, otherwise, what’s the point?

P.S. No dogs were harmed in the making of this blog. Winston did that to himself, but now he knows how to self-manage. Anything is paw-sible when you know how to self-manage. Consider following in Winston’s leadership footsteps and check out our Mindset Matters Workshop Schedule for you or your team!

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President and CEO

Joan Graci is an accomplished organizational consultant and executive coach with three decades of helping growing companies identify, retain, and develop top talent. Her time as President and Owner of APA Solutions, the premier brain-based human capital consulting firm of WNY, has been spent developing cutting edge, science-based solutions to the people pains of today.