If Smudge could talk, she would tell you there is nothing in the world right now except that tennis ball and the very real possibility that someone might kick it or throw it. You could dump an ice chest full of Gatorade on her head like they do to the winning coaches at the end of a championship football game, and she would shake it off and be right back on her target.
She is never going to stop being focused; that’s just part of being a Jack Russell.
When I was first starting out in my career, someone called me “intense” and I heard it as a criticism. It sounded like an annoying personal trait, like I had taken focused too far. For years, I tried really, really hard to be laid back.
Wow, I’m just not.
I value clarity and I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist. I like to be absolutely sure about things if at all possible. I hate having to go back and correct mistakes and clean up messes when – if I had just been paying closer attention in the first place – I’d be moving forward, not backtracking because of a major derailment. And I can be very hard on myself, can you tell?
Smudge? Not so much.
She never worries about screwing up. She never worries, period. She is focused with anticipation, not fear. She is expecting a good time, something positive. She wants to play and let me tell you, she’s hard to ignore.
Ah, and if you engage with her, Smudge will be all in, chasing and retrieving that ball till it’s slimy and disgusting. She’s really good at it, too, even at 15½ . (If I had ever learned to throw a Frisbee, maybe I could have trained her to be truly competitive as a Frisbee dog.)
The game is over when she finally collapses in exhaustion, which doesn’t take nearly as long as it used to. But here’s the thing – she never even pretends to be laid back; she simply throws her whole quivering self into whatever she’s doing.
That’s just who she is.
I can’t change my basic nature any more than Smudge can stop being a Jack Russell, but I can learn to pay attention to what is motivating my intensity (there, I said it) and if it’s negative, I can make a conscious effort to let it go. Yes, I can relax.
“Relax” is a command Smudge has yet to learn.
What motivates you to focus?