Lucy Lesson #1: Bite off more than you can chew

September 22, 2011 — Leave a comment

Lucy at the levee

I threw the log into the water not thinking she would actually go after it, but she was determined to fetch it. She swam out into the deep water and struggled to get a good grip on it. She swam around it a few times, and she took some bites at it. My wife began to get worried as Lucy seemed to be getting tired.

My wife had reason to be worried as this wasn’t an ordinary body of water, it was the Mississippi River! That’s the best place in New Orleans for Lucy to get her swim time!

Lucy doesn’t have limitations in her head about what she can and can’t do. This explains why she still crawls under the bed during a thunderstorm even though she’s 80 pounds. The bad part is that we have to lift up the bed to get her out.

As humans, we’re conditioned to know our limitations and we rarely push against them. We’re much like the fleas in Zig Ziglar’s story on how to train fleas.

How do you train fleas? Stick them in a jar with a lid on it. At first, the fleas will continually jump and hit the lid. After a while, they become conditioned to the lid, and they jump just high enough so they don’t hit it. What happens when you take the lid off? They still won’t jump high enough to get out of the jar. You’ve trained the flea.

Have we become conditioned to only jump so high? Some causes of this conditioning are a lack of confidence, previous failures, or a lack of support. Most causes stem from our memories. Sometimes you need a breaking point before you realize how much you’re holding yourself back.

This brings us back to Lucy. After swimming a few laps around it and finally getting a good grip, she looked like a tug boat pulling a massive ship down the Mississippi River. She moved about an inch every ten dog paddles, but that didn’t stop her.

She already beat the odds by getting it moving, and she wasn’t going to stop now. She powered on and got it to shore. She still didn’t stop. She managed to drag it all of the way out of the water and pull it to my side.

The great philosopher and thinker Adam Smith put it this way, “Great dangers have their charms, because there is some glory to be got, even when we miscarry. But moderate dangers have nothing but what is horrible, because the loss of reputation always attends the want of success.”

Even if Lucy didn’t get the log all of the way to shore, we still would be amazed that she took a great danger.

Often times, we don’t take on the risks that bring great danger for fear of failure. We’re also afraid to take the moderate risk because there isn’t a perceived valuable pay off, and what are we if we can’t even succeed at that?

Lucy reminds me to go for the great danger just like she did.

Good Lucy.

Have you ever been inspired by your pet? Let me know about it in the comments section below!

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