My dog, Lily, has been at it again: teaching me what I need to know. This last lesson is about facing obstacles and how to move past them. I’m sure she’s not enjoying this particular role, but I am grateful for it, nonetheless.

Lily is a 6-year-old German Shepherd in the early stages of hip dysplasia. Additionally, it takes her joints a minute or two to loosen up, making it more difficult to stand up after being in one position too long. I can relate to that. We’re both awkwardly moving around the house first thing in the morning.

Lily’s dysplasia has resulted from time to time in her legs giving out at unfortunate times, such as going up or down the stairs. More than a little scary for her and anyone observing this. And yet, because she is such a loyal dog, she insists on following me everywhere I go, which necessitates her pushing herself to break through the fear and try it again until she reaches her goal. Here is what she has taught me:

  1. The fear is real, as it is predicated on actual negative results when making attempts to achieve the goal.
  2. While there have been negative consequences, they are only 20% (or less) of the time. The remaining 80% were positive.
  3. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway is the definition of courage.
  4. You cannot succeed unless you try.
  5. The only way to move through the fear is to move through it. Take the action.
  6. If at first you don’t succeed….try, try, again.
  7. And lastly, it’s all a head game.

Most nights, after I have gone upstairs, I hear Lily at the bottom of the stairs crying. Yes, it is heartbreaking. I have tried cajoling her, encouraging her, going down and trying to go with her. Carrying a 100 pound dog up the stairs is out of the question. But the only way she EVER makes it up the stairs is when she has made up her mind to do it. I have watched her start up a step…and then retreat in fear. She does this a few times. Next she walks away, as if to clear the slate and do a pep talk to herself. And then, as if she’s said, “I can DO this!”, she lets it all go and charges up the stairs with no problems.

How many times have I been stuck someplace, just replaying over in my head some loss or hurt or fear? How many times have I not moved forward because I allowed that negativity take control? Yes, I may fail…but I may very well succeed as well.

If Lily can do it, so can I. Out of my head, and full speed ahead!