Are you celebrating the right things?

comparison goals Oct 24, 2023

My social media post for today was "Don't forget to sing when you win." It's a line from the opening song in the show "Welcome to Wrexham."* 


I LOVE this reminder. At some point, nearly every coaching call includes interrupting my clients to celebrate something they just told me. In their mind, they are talking to me to solve a problem, but that doesn't mean we gloss over the celebration.


Celebrations, large and small, are crucial to building our self-confidence so we can go on to solve other challenges that arise while also kicking some butt. We HAVE to note our progress if we ever hope to make more.


The trouble is, we have been conditioned that celebrations are only for "winners" and definitely not for NQs. But that's just not true. As we have all learned, an NQ where process goals are met is worth celebrating. A baby dog's first foray into the ring is worth celebrating. Progress is always worth celebrating.


When we fail to define process goals, we default to outcome goals because it's all we have. For instance, if you take your young dog into the obedience ring for the first time but don't define what success looks like, then all you have to measure the run by is a green ribbon. This is horribly unfair to both of you! Pre-defining YOUR version of success before you walk into the ring is the only way you'll honestly measure your performance, in other words, process goals.


I get it. The pressure around us at a trial, show, or test is about being able to answer the question, "Did you Q/win/pass?" But that pressure isn't doing us any favors - it has us focused on the wrong thing, outcomes. That same pressure also shifts the focus externally to what other people may think about our performance. If you knew Sally-Sue would always ask you if you Q'd, you would start taking Sally-Sue into the ring with you (metaphorically, of course). And the last thing we need to do is take a bunch of other people into the ring with us!


Butter your own biscuits

I never thought one of my elementary school takeaways would be "eyes on your own paper," but it's quite handy in dog sports. Keeping our focus on our unique journey helps us form appropriate process goals - ones uniquely crafted for each dog and ourselves. When we take time to define our tailored process goals we are more likely to make progress and have something to celebrate.


And finally, don't let others influence you when it comes to what is celebration-worthy. You define that. I once had a young dog go in the agility ring and do a complete "nut-run." She took multiple wrong obstacles and blew me off, but to me it was celebratory. This dog ALWAYS did as she was told so to watch her go into the ring with pure joy and enthusiasm was a win! Were several spectators confused with my joy over such an obvious train wreck? 100%. But my process goals, my celebration.


So don't forget to celebrate all the little victories along the way!!



*(W2W is the documentary of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny buying a struggling football (soccer) club in Wales and turning it around, FYI)

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