Expectations and Perspective

As babies who could barely manage to sit up, we must have looked at the kid already crawling and thought she was the most awesomely talented baby around. We wanted to be able to crawl just like her. So we worked at it until the day we finally made it to our hands and knees. Suddenly we were booking all over the place. Then we saw the toddler walking!

Whoa! Are you kidding me?!!? Walking?

Here was something new to aspire to, and so our perspective changed. Crawling was no longer good enough. We wanted more. We pulled ourselves up on the couch, grasped adult fingers, stumbled, fell, landed on our diaper-padded asses, finally took those first few steps and then…

There’s a kid running, hopping, skipping, jumping, dancing…

Now, when we were that baby, first figuring out how to crawl, we could have stayed right there, content to have mastered life on our hands and knees. Of course, our parents had expectations for us, being too young to have our own I suppose. They expected us to walk. They worked with us, guided us, helped us along until we could manage it on our own (and have, I suspect, regretted every moment since).

Wait just a cotton-picking minute! What’s all this baby talk have to do with working dogs, you ask.

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Well, just like that baby, we all start this journey crawling. We struggle to stand on our own two feet with, hopefully, the help of someone we admire and respect. We start to walk. We have success. We achieve some of our goals. We watch others and think, “That’s what I’m aspiring toward.”

New goals are set. New expectations laid on ourselves. We work harder. We stop settling for ‘almost’ and push for more.

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A strange thing happens when we no longer accept ‘good enough’. Our perspective changes. What we once saw as a pinnacle of achievement, we suddenly see as a stepping stone to something even better.

Not everyone reaches that realization. Or perhaps they find settling for the comfort that comes with mastery at a certain level to be far safer. That’s okay. I’m not here to start a fight with anyone about it. Aspirations and expectations often lead to disappointment and failure and that’s no fun. It’s damn scary and equally frustrating. There are times striving for more can wear a person down. Some folks who try and miss don’t have it in them to try again. Perhaps it could be said of those of us who do, that it’s a fine line between persistence and insanity.

I’ve dealt with a lot of that frustration over the past year or so. Yes, there were times I thought about throwing in the towel on this whole training and trialing thing, but it’s just not in me to do that. I can still remember where I was; where I could have settled in and been comfortable. That propels me forward. My expectations are higher than they were. My perspective no longer what it was. So I face my failures and my shortcomings and find new ways to get around them, or at least deal with them. What once was ‘good enough’ isn’t where I want to be.

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