Whether competing on the field or in the job market agility is the key. Adopt these field-tested strategies for success.
Pre-plan your approach. Prior to each agility event, handlers are given the opportunity to walk the course and determine their approach to each obstacle. This is a chance to identify potential stumbling blocks and play up you and your dog’s strengths. Experienced dog handlers pre-visualize a successful outcome.
Savvy job hunters take a similar approach. They pre-plan the interview by mentally walking through it before the big day. They arrive at the interview knowing how to play up their strengths. They are able to articulate the similarities between their past and the challenges presented in the current position. They are clear about the benefits the company will enjoy as a result of their contributions.
Good dog handlers know it is not about them – it’s about the dog. Leave your jittery nerves at the start gate and focus on helping your dog be successful. Smile. Encourage your dog, and confidently run the course. Stay in the game even if your dog veers off course.
Similarly, in the interview it isn’t about you — it’s about the hiring manager. Smile. Shake hands and confidently address her challenge or situation.
Forget about your sweaty palms and the butterflies in your gut. Focus on the interview team. Your physical discomfort will disappear once you shift attention from how you are doing to how you can assist the company in achieving its goals.
The best competitors take responsibility for their screw ups, learn from them and let them go. They don’t blame the dog and they don’t re-live their failures. They figure out what is not working, change strategies and move on. These are the pros I love to watch; they enjoy themselves on the field and their dogs are a joy to behold.
The most successful job hunters take personal responsibility for their mistakes rather than blaming the interviewer for tripping them up by asking tough questions. They realize that everyone makes mistakes; they educate themselves about what didn’t work and apply what they learned to the next interview.
Smart agility pros leave room for improvisation. As amazing as it may seem, sometimes the dog has a better idea about how the course should be run. Great handlers “know” their dog and go with the flow when the dog improvises.
Likewise, well-prepared candidates are able to “read” the interviewer and confidently turn on a dime when the conversation takes a surprising turn. Their intuition, the result of practice and experience, serves them well as they navigate unexpected complications.
Celebrate every run, every time. Dogs who aren’t having fun don’t want run. It is easy for novice handlers to become discouraged when the dog runs out of the ring or won’t get on the teeter. The real competitors acknowledge what went right and recognize the small wins. Agility is a humbling sport; it is hard to stick with it if you don’t celebrate the mini successes.
Confident candidates appreciate the small wins — the unexpected networking opportunities and surprise referrals. They remain positive and upbeat despite the inevitable setbacks. They celebrate the tiny triumphs knowing they lead to an eventual win.
Mary Jeanne Vincent is a career expert and strategist with a private coaching practice in Monterey. She may be reached at 831.657.9151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.