Last week I wrote about the stories we tell ourselves to make our own reality. This weekend I was doing a little extracurricular reading and ran across the name “Cesar Millan.” Cesar is perhaps best known as “The Dog Whisperer.” On his website there is a tab on “Dog Psychology” and in that tab is a feature called “10 Principles for Achieving Balance.” Principle 3 is “Know the difference between story and truth.” Imagine my delight when something random ties into something I had just written. Cesar says that “humans tell stories, while dogs tell the truth.”
Now my crazy brain is immediately directed to my friend Russel Hornfisher. Russ has been in the O&P field for longer than I can imagine and has held positions ranging from district sales manager to president. There is no question in my mind that Russ is a capable and competent leader. In his spare time, he is devoted to dog rescue and competition and he, like Cesar, has come to know a thing or two about canine behavior. His unique experiences and skills combine into a great storyteller and speaker. Russ has presented on leadership and management topics with catchy titles like “Who Moved My Dog Dish” and “How to Treat Your Employees Like Dogs.” He just recently wrote and published a book by the same name “How To Treat Your Employees Like a Dog.”
I have had the opportunity to hear Russ speak and have been blessed to break bread with him a few times. His lessons and insights have inspired me.
So coming full circle, we have an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review on adjusting our perceptions by recognizing the stories we tell ourselves, a mention of the “Dog Whisperer” who talks about understanding the difference between a story and the truth, Russ Hornfisher and his insightful lessons on management and behavior inspired by his work with both dogs and humans, and then a book I picked up by Malcom Gladwell called “What the Dog Saw” (that’s why I called this “What The Dog Sees!”). To really blow you away, you may recall that Jessica wrote about the same theme hitting her over and over again…ok…so here’s the wake-up call.
Cesar goes on in his 3rd principle to say the following: “It isn’t until we listen to the truth that our dog is telling us that we can figure out what’s going on and bring balance to the pack.
For example, if your dog is constantly pulling paper out of the trash and scattering it all over the house when you’re away, your story might be, ‘She must have thought there was food in there,’ or ‘He did that to let me know he’s angry that I left.’
The truth from the dog is different, and is probably, ‘I’m bored.’”
Now think of the employees’ perception when you don’t take a minute to ask how their day is going, or acknowledge a job well done. The story they might tell themselves is “My boss doesn’t think I do a good job.” Or worse, “She didn’t care about me (or what I did).” You know the truth is you care, but you are busy.
So as managers and leaders, my takeaway from all of this is that it is incumbent upon us all to be aware of the stories we tell ourselves, but equally important is to know the stories the people who work for us tell themselves. What is their reality? Through what lens do they process information? What do your staff see when they look at you?
Scott Williamson, MBA, CAE(ret), is the Executive Director of the OPIE Choice Network. He founded and is President of Quality Outcomes, LLC., a company dedicated to establishing a consensus building approach to identify broad-based Orthotic and Prosthetic (O&P) outcomes data to identify and teach professional best practices. Scott was recently certified in Lean Six Sigma.
Scott is a member of the National Quality Forum and is active on the Quality Measures Research Council. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Orthotic and Prosthetic Learning, he is a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and is past-chair of the Healthcare Knowledge Taskforce for ASAE. He is the President of OPAF and is Treasurer of the Pedorthic Research Foundation Board of Directors. He has worked in professional certification since 1992, and most recently worked for the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, Inc. (ABC) from 2002 – 2010 as the Director of Facility Accreditation. In that position he played a key role in establishing and maintaining the national standards for quality O&P care. Scott has been a key liaison between the O&P profession and CMS during the development of the CMS Quality Standards and their mandatory accreditation program. In 1995, Scott earned his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Richmond and his undergraduate degree is in Management Economics from Hampden~Sydney College. While earning his MBA, Scott worked for MWH MediCorp (a hospital holding company) where he developed and maintained billing and performance data and was responsible for corporate safety and security. In 2005 Scott earned his Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Scott is a frequent speaker on value-based healthcare and its impact on the provision of O&P services, as well as business process improvement and change management in a small practice setting. He has taught DMEPOS accreditation processes and standards and explained the CMS Quality Standards. Scott, his wife, Colleen and daughter Nicole live in Fredericksburg, Virginia.