I’m reading a book (Influencer; The New Science of Leading Change) –  and one concept caught my eye:

According to social science research, the difference between five years of experience and 20 years is relatively small in terms of applied skills and ability. But…how can that be?

For the first five years that you learn a new thing, whether it’s being a surgeon or a dog trainer, you learn a ton! You know you need to learn, you’re focused on learning, and your skill set is continuously improving.

Then what happens?

Well after that, there’s not much difference!   Whether we like it or not, we act like we know everything after about five years, unless we make a conscious effort to learn and grow.

Hmm.  Certainly worth thinking….most people don’t say, “I know everything; don’t bother to tell me anything new!”  Most people like to say they’re always learning and open to new ideas. But is it true?

Let’s look more carefully.

What have you learned in the past year – in dog training – that has changed how you do something?  Either how you teach a skill or teach your clients or run a class?  Or – maybe even better! What have you tried out that is different, and then went back to how you did it before because, with reflection, you realized the first approach was better for your situation?   Running with the herd is no more impressive than sitting like a plant; critical thought and evaluation should be the driver.

If you look back one year, three years, five years…exactly how have you changed the design of your classes, the skills you choose to teach, or maybe how you present the information to improve your student’s success?  Have you stopped thinking about what you were told five years ago, and start thinking for yourself?

Obviously you don’t have to do this. If you’ve been around for 20 years and you worked hard the first five, then you might be doing a pretty good job. On the other hand, you might be losing out on so much wonderful new information –  quite possibly that you figured out for yourself simply by seeking new possibilities and critically evaluating them.

If you wish, let me know in the comments what you have experimented with to help your personal and professional dog training growth.  Good luck!

On another note, registration for the October term at FDSA started yesterday! If you want a Gold level class, don’t waste time because many of them sellout in the first day or two.  We are offering 34 classes this term, so there will be something for you – and don’t forget workshops and webinars as well!  Instruction for classes begins October 1 while workshops and webinars roll around weekly.