Say you’ve decided to build a house. You can’t start by putting the roof on it because you’ve got nothing to put the roof onto. You can’t start with the walls because you’ve got nothing to hold them up. You can’t start with the floor because you’ve got nothing to put that on either.
To build a house, you have to create the foundation first. Then you can create the frame and the floor that will hold up everything else. Once the house is built, then it will give protection — which is one of the two things that a good Pack Leader provides.
Oddly enough, you build leadership the same way you build a house, and you have to start with the right foundation.
That foundation is your energy and, like a good foundation, it has got to be stable. There’s a reason that we build a house’s foundation out of things like stone, cement, or concrete and not sand. Nervous, anxious, or uncertain energy is sand. The first step is to make sure that your energy is made out of solid stuff: calmness.
It’s also important to remember that the source of this calm energy is not your pack, it’s you. Just as the roof doesn’t hold the house up, your dogs don’t create your energy. You create theirs.
How to be calm
Like anything else, learning how to be calm takes practice, and some people are naturally better at achieving this state than others. Two of the best techniques to achieving calmness are to reconnect with Nature and live in the moment.
Pick a natural environment that you like — a park, the beach, the mountains — then go there regularly and just experience the beauty and peacefulness of nature. Try to clear your mind and not think of anything in particular. Instead, pay attention to the sights and sounds and smells. Experience the world the way your dog would: instinctually.
This instinctive way of being without relying on intellect and emotion is what it means to live in the moment. The more you connect with Nature, the more you will be in the moment, and vice versa. The two things reinforce each other.
The key in this process is to learn how to bring this feeling and energy back to the human world with you. In order to do that, you need to focus on what’s around you the same way that you focus on Nature when you’re not thinking about it and just experiencing it.
It also helps to put things in perspective. For example, if you don’t make that green light while you’re driving, how much time is it really going to cost you? Thirty seconds, or maybe a minute? Do you really need to go ten miles per hour over the speed limit? On a twenty mile trip, that only saves you three minutes and twenty seconds. And that line at the store is nowhere near as long as you think it is when you’re calm.
Learning to remain calm in the face of minor frustrations will help you make that foundation rock-solid so that your whole house will ride it out when the huge earthquake of a real problem comes along.
And remember how I always tell people to be calm and assertive? Finding that place of calm energy will also help you learn how to be assertive, which is much easier to do when you’re not nervous or anxious. I also teach people how to become assertive by using their imagination to envision someone they think of as a good leader, which fits the metaphor perfectly. Your imagination is the blueprint for the house you are going to build on the strong foundation of calm energy.
So stay calm, and start building!