Thursday, 13 September 2007

Bad Habits

While in Barbados, on one of my visits to the beach, I saw a dog pulling a heavy rock along the sand. The dog's name was Blackie and his owner had attached a strap around his neck which was attached to the rock. Now I know that dogs are capable of pulling heavy loads but this still seemed somewhat barbaric. What's more, I noticed that Blackie was only pulling the rock from one side of his neck.

I summoned up my courage and told the owner that if he insisted on making his dog pull rocks by his neck that he should at least make sure that the dog did so from both sides otherwise the dog would end up with a muscular imbalance. Blackie's owner took my advice good-naturedly. He explained that Blackie had been pulling rocks since he was a pup. He added that he continued to make him do so to slow him down otherwise Blackie would be dragging him along when he took him for walks. He said he wanted him to do one more 'lap' and then he could rest.

So together we switched the makeshift harness so that the rock was positioned on the other side of Blackie's neck and guess what? Blackie either couldn't or wouldn't pull the rock from the other side. As soon as we switched the rock back to the original side Blackie was able to pull it again.

Blackie's owner wasn't being deliberately cruel. The dog appeared friendly yet spirited and well cared for. His owner never thought that what he was doing was having an adverse effect on Blackie's mental and physical development.

"Most people do things one way because that's all they know."
Jay Abraham

When we repeatedly do things we create habits. Unfortunately, many of the habits we cultivate do not serve us and they have the effect of sabotaging our development, our progress and our level of success.

There was no reason why Blackie should not have been able to pull the rock from both sides of his neck. Admittedly, pulling the rock from the side he was unaccustomed to using would have been more difficult but not impossible. However, because of his 'training' he could only pull the rock from one side.

Many of us adopt habits that we don't even have a logical reason for doing. Maybe we saw a parent do something a particular way and we adopted that way of doing things without questioning. It may have made sense for our parents to do things that way but times and circumstances change and those reasons may no longer have validity. So it pays to examine your life for those limiting habits that are having a negative effect on your success.

However, there's another lesson to be learnt from Blackie's tale. His owner was making Blackie pull rocks to slow him down so he wouldn't be dragged along. He didn't think instead to raise his level of fitness so that he could better keep up with his dog and have more fun exercising with him.

Are there areas of your life where someone is holding back your development just so they don't have to change? In fact we've all experienced this at some time in our lives. Sometimes, it's not an external force or being that is trying to hold us back and stifle our development; sometimes it's an internal force or being. Sometimes it's you, your alter ego.

One of the reasons why you hinder your own development is fear. You may fear that you are not smart enough or brave enough. You may fear being rejected, criticised or ridiculed. You may fear losing the respect of loved ones and or those you hold in high esteem.

You can cover a lantern but its light will still shine. It's your decision whether you will forever conceal that light within or reveal it for all to see.

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