What service do you provide? How do you measure your impact?
Pet professionals are all in service professions.
Every day, you make a difference in the lives of animals and other people.
But do you feel it? Does it stick with you?
Do you walk out at the end of the day feeling satisfied by a job well done? Or do you feel exhausted and drained by all of the demands on your time, attention, and expertise?
Far too many, pet professionals feel weighed down by their work, not energized and excited by it.
The oft-cited crisis of veterinary suicide has roots in the need to be of service and the difficulty in feeling acknowledged, supported, and valued. It's not just veterinarians who are struggling.
I hear similar stories from vet techs, kennel staff, shelter and rescue personnel, dog trainers, and pet sitters. Across the board, pet pros are struggling to find the boundaries between their service and their own wellbeing.
Veronica Sanchez of Cooperative Paws joined me to talk about service. Veronica teaches other dog trainers how to train service dogs. We wrestled with the word "service" because it has so many negative connotations.
As Veronica said, it's closely linked to servitude, which isn't far off from what many pet pros describe when I talk with them about their jobs.
Do you give joyfully or from a place of pressure? Do you feel obligated to meet your clients' every need? Do you feel guilty when you turn someone away? Do you ever beat yourself up for not doing enough, knowing enough, being enough to meet the constant demands?
I loved that Veronica emphasized a very important point. She encourages all of her students to remember that they cannot see the full effect of their work. It's impossible.
Think about it from the perspective of your own life.
- What's the best advice you ever got?
- Who helped you understand something from a new perspective?
- Who inspired you to develop your talents?
- Who made a suggestion that you didn't adopt until much later?
Does the other person in these stories know the effect they had on you? Probably not. For them, it was just an ordinary moment in an ordinary day.
But for you, it changed the way you see the world.
Ripple effects are powerful--and subtle.
This conversation with Veronica is sure to give you lots to think about.
What impact would it have if you could stop measuring your effectiveness by the changes you see immediately, and instead adopted the perspective of planting seeds?
You may not be present to see grow; your job is simply to sow with care and good intentions.