Teddy is a mix between a chow and maybe golden retriever. He is about 75 pounds and the first thing people typically notice about him is his huge skull. You may never find a more gentle dog, but he also comes with baggage.
He was rescued from a nearby town in northern New Mexico– found wandering around the town, bleeding from his ear (which was half torn off from some type of attack), malnourished, skittish and emotionally scarred. I don’t know what all he went through but he had an adverse reaction to other dogs, fire, sticks, and even toys.
After some research, I learned he needed a secure/positive environment and lots of affirmation in order to gain back confidence and battle his insecurity. To build confidence, I began taking him on walks to increase quality time. At first, he was wild and would pull everywhere and I knew I needed to teach him how to be an on-leash dog. So for a couple weeks, I was assertive and Teddy quickly learned to sit, stay, stop, and walk at my side. He was doing great.
One day, on our morning walk, Teddy saw a squirrel and he lit up. His ears perked straight up and he began jumping side to side in an excited and frantic way. He had so much power and speed! I wondered where in Teddy’s life he would be allowed to run and exhibit his natural power.
While my leash training was important, it was time to progress to off-leash training to give him the freedom to grow in the power of his nature. By restricting his growth to on-leash only, I was stopping his progress and stunting his health. If I didn’t make that off-leash training move, I would be standing in the way of what Teddy could become.
As leaders, it is a temptation to create employees who do the task just how we want it done. We keep them on a leash because it’s less messy and we are in control. It is easy to make excuses for why we need to keep a short leash on our employees or followers but those excuses can often be masks for a hidden insecurity in ourselves.
What would happen if you lead people toward healing and full throttle passion? They may run faster than us, have more power than we have and even accomplish what we cannot.
Yes, it can be scary–but to a true leader, that is when the excitement happens. That is off-leash leadership!
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