October 2017

Though it happened a few times in the last days, I wasn’t entirely sure. It was only now, during our last walk, that it became so obvious I can no longer ignore it: instead of me training Django, it is him training me sometimes. And there I was, thinking I was his owner!

I can almost see his mind at work: “Mmmm, I feel like a treat. Let me give my owner a friendly command. I will walk to her left, nice and close and then I will look up to her lovingly and make eye contact. And bingo – there goes her hand, into her pocket, and here comes the scrumptious dog biscuit. She did that so well. Maybe I should repeat it a few times so she gets the hang of it. These humans are so easy to train, so much easier than that cat of mine. Let alone the hens.”

All joking aside, I sometimes really think that we humans fool ourselves. Thinking we are the King of Creation and that sort of stuff – we really are not. Another example: all those nice lawns everywhere, numerous acres of land covered in a small green plant that managed to convince humans to cultivate it carefully, fertilise it, free it from moss and other competitors, cut it nicely every week during spring and summer and even sprinkle it! Thanks to humans, this plant has done quite nicely and has even conquered the world.

We are so used to contemplating the world from our own familiar perspective and do not look beyond what we were taught at school and elsewhere. The “what if” question comes to mind again – I wrote about it in a previous blog post.

What if things were different from what we have always assumed? It can make you feel very unsafe to question your normal perspective. On the other hand it also offers incredible freedom and creativity to step outside the beaten track and become curious.

I spontaneously think of Albert Einstein, a scientist who is a figurehead of this attitude. In the meantime we all know where it led him and us. Artists in all kinds of disciplines are another category of people who cultivate this ability to think and act in a radically different way.

What I’m getting at is that each of us can do this, if we are willing to let go of the familiar. At the end of the day, it is about making choices – choices that are life confirming instead of life diminishing. For quite a number of people who start a coaching journey the key question is: how can I live and work in a way that is more confirming and liberating than diminishing?

This brings me to another matter: I truly enjoy writing my blog articles and find a lot of satisfaction in inspiring other people. The frequency of these bi-weekly blogs is starting to become hard and somewhat limiting – I have so many other projects ongoing. So with some regret I have decided to write and publish a new article once every month. I have a few loose ideas to treat you to alternative inspiration in-between, but I need some time to think it over.

So… see you in a month, same time, same place.

Anne cutout

From Prey to Predator and vice versa

Our dog Django has found a new pastime and we are the highly amused spectators. Since a few weeks we have three new hens – the previous ones ended up as fox food, may they rest in peace.. In the spirit of contributing to general animal welfare, we decided to adopt old laying hens through a dedicated organisation.

These old laying hens at first looked bald, skinny and miserable, as a result of the ‘intensive’ life they led in the egg industry. After a few weeks of sunlight and fresh air, abundant free ranging space, a comfortable pen with straw and perches, kitchen leftovers, freely found insects and worms, they can call themselves proper hens again, with their feathers back in full splendour.

Our previous hens were quite assertive and at times arrogant, especially towards each other. But they still remained prey animals that either fled or played dead when they sensed danger. Keeping them together with Django in the garden turned out to be not such a good idea.

So imagine Django’s and our surprise when we noticed that these new hens show a completely different reaction to the hunting instinct of our dog. Instead of fleeing or freezing, they resolutely go for the counter attack – to the great delight of our playful dog, who is challenging them and then runs off as a headless chicken when they charge after him as true Velocirpators out of Jurassic Park.

From prey to predator and vice versa, the natural order put upside down. The animals themselves do not seem to be bothered by it – for sure Django isn’t, and the hens appear to find it quite normal to be on top of the food chain.

Apart from a horror movie script forming in my imagination, I see quite a few possible life lessons in this amusing story:

  • It pays off to take a flexible attitude in life
  • You should not assume too much, as reality can be quite different
  • Humour gets you a long way in unexpected situations
  • Hardship will turn you into another person/animal

I am very curious to hear what it meant to you – do let me know. Just reply to the email or when you are reading this in the browser, double-click on the title and complete the reply form. Do you have another unexpected perspective, let me know as well. Or maybe you know the scientific explanation for this phenomenon?

See you in two weeks.

Anne cutout