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Shawna Schuh

Go Lie Down! How Taking a Break Will Help You and Your Business

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One thing our pets teach us is that resting is part of the day.

“Go lie down,” we say to our canine companions.

We don’t need to tell them to do this. Dogs lie down to wait, they lie down to rest, and they settle down when the action stops.

Are you doing that for you? When do you plan on lying down awhile?

If you have a pet business, you’re already thinking about Christmas, but taking some time now to stop all the activity could be the best thing you can do for your business.

But how? Most pet professionals feel overworked. The really healthy and successful ones know that the time they take to refresh and renew is time invested in helping them think more clearly, come up with new ideas and give a fresh perspective to their team and customers.

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Try these three mini-rests that can be done almost anytime.

  • Go to water. Airbnb is so easy to use, and it’s staying someplace people actually live, rather than a sterile hotel. Plus, you can be close to water, which has a calming effect on nearly everyone. The ocean, a river or a lake — any of these will help you re-level your tank. Extra idea: Blow up the air toys and float on the water.
  • Give yourself a spa day. Nourishing your body with healing touch is one of my favorite re-energizing activities. Our pets are healthier when we pet them (and, yes, it benefits us too). But who “pets” us? Hire a professional for a massage, a facial or a pedicure, and feel the love as our pets do.
  • Lie or walk barefoot on the earth. You can do this during a picnic, when you camp, or even at home in your yard. It’s amazing to me how humans no longer connect to the energy of the earth.

Dogs lie down on the ground often, and they are healthier for it. Why not us?

Ask yourself when was the last time you actually touched the ground? Walked barefoot outside, got your hands in dirt? This is the best way to ground yourself. Dogs get this.

These refreshing ideas will benefit you, but even better, they will help your family, team and customers because you will feel, look and communicate better.

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SHAWNA SCHUH  is a certified speaking professional, an executive coach, master neuro linguistic programming practitioner and president of Women in the Pet Industry Network. Email her at shawna@womeninthepetindustry.com


This article originally appeared in the July-August 2018 edition of PETS+.  

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Shawna Schuh

Embrace Manure Flinging: It Comes with Animals … and Leading a Business

What if all the tasks you do are embedded with love?

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I CLEAN TWO HORSE stalls nearly every day. Every day I fling manure into a wheelbarrow knowing full well that not more than 24 hours later I will be repeating this task.

It doesn’t bother me. Matter of fact, I’ve come to love this time I take, usually in the morning, to serve animals that can not serve themselves in this task.

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I mention it here because as leaders, there are certain consistent tasks that we can either embrace or rally against.

People sometimes ask me, usually when I’m dressed up, looking and acting highly professional and engaged in complex conversation, “Do you clean your own stalls?” Or, and pet people can so relate to this, “Doesn’t it bother you that you have to feed, care for, pay attention to your pet every day?”

This is usually a person who had decided not to have animals. Who uses the excuse that they travel too much, or that they don’t want to go through the heartbreak when a beloved pet dies, or even, that it would be “unfair” to the animal since they really don’t have time.

I am in agreement that this person is smart not to have a pet. Each person has to make their own choices, and yet they are the ones who seem to have an opinion about the time, money or energy I spend on my lifestyle and four-legged charges.

Why do I mention any of this? Which camp are you in? And how do you think about the consistent and repeating tasks that being a leader assumes?

Here are a few ideas to mull over, maybe while you’re doing whatever your flinging manure task is?

1. What’s our big “why?” Simon Sennick in a TED talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” explains the golden circle that encompasses the What, the How and — the deepest — the Why. It’s worth a watch (petsplusmag.com/2203). I challenge you to determine why you picked this life, this career, these tasks.

2. Remember that it’s your choice. When we have repetitive tasks, like cleaning horse stalls, doing your books, writing your goals, it’s easy to slip into a rut that sometimes feels like a deep ditch, and since there’s no finish line, can become tedious. Or not.

3. Color it with love. Though I cannot say I love manure, I do love flinging it into the wheelbarrow. I consider it an act of love. Love for my horses, love for my lifestyle, love for the exercise it gains me and deep love for a job well done and finished.

What if all the tasks you do are embedded with love? What if you played a game with your repetitive tasks to find ways to expedite them? Shift them into a test? What if you looked at every task as an opportunity to tweak, improve and excel?

Example: I have set up my barn in ways to do things with more ease, more fun, and that allow me to use my flinging time to improve myself. People ask how I listen to so many books. Manure-flinging rules!

Check in with yourself about those tasks you think are mundane or repetitive — maybe even gross. I mean, manure doesn’t have many redeeming qualities, but I have come to appreciate it for what it does for me.

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Shawna Schuh

True Leaders Learn the Skills of Telling, Selling and Asking

Beware the overshare.

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IN AN INTERVIEW FOR a new team member, we sat down and began some preliminary chit-chat.

Admittedly, I am a curious sort; I ask more questions than most. It’s my job, after all, as a leadership coach, so when I began by asking, “Tell me a little about yourself.” I did not expect to hear what I did: The interviewee went on to share and to overshare. We found out about her marriage history, abuse, blended families, a home lost by the recession and what was wrong with her last employer.

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She was talking too much for us to ask additional questions.

According to her resume, she had the skills we needed, but we decided we wouldn’t hire her because of her oversharing habit.

Oversharing lost her the job. Over-sharing can lose you customers, too.

What is a leader to do? Well, first, be sure you aren’t the one who overshares.

My coaching clients learn early that most leaders do three things often.

1. They tell. Usually, leaders are telling their team how to do things, what the vision is, how to handle customers. Leaders tell and tell and tell. They do this because they are the ones in the know. They are making the decisions, and to be good communicators, they tell their teams.

2. They sell. This is one most leaders don’t realize they are doing, but they do it all the time. After all, you want your team bought into your vision, and you want people to get excited. Leaders are the most knowledgeable about the product or business, and most started by selling so they sell.

When you are telling and selling, sometimes you forget and overshare. Leaders get zealous about things and sometimes that leads to oversharing.
What can you do to stop yourself from the overshare? What would have helped the interviewee land the job?

3. They ask. Leaders learn to be expert askers. When you ask questions, many wonderful things happen: The people you ask questions feel valued — like their opinion matters. You learn something. And you allow others to talk, which means you aren’t talking or oversharing.

To become an expert asker, all you need do is, of course, ask questions. This is a simple concept like dieting, and, like dieting, usually not easy.

Here are two questions most any leader or anyone will benefit from asking:

What is it you want?

This question helps the other person define their goals. For customers, it helps you help them. Note: Be prepared for some silence, a lot of people really don’t know what they want. If they are quiet, simply smile and ask them something else like, “What makes you happiest?”

What can I do for you?

This question gets to the core of need. It also shows them that you are focused on them. That’s the beauty of questions: They are outward focused, and when you are outward focused, it helps you be the kind of leader, teammate, partner, a parent that others want to be around.

If nothing else, please think before you overshare!

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Shawna Schuh

3 Words to Project Calm and Give Yourself Time to Think

When you find life, people, pets — anything — interesting, you’ll find your life more interesting…

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AS A LEADER, what is your reaction to upsets, incidents, challenges and changes?

I like to think I keep a cool head and open mind, and I hope I do. However, recently when I was working with a client, I noticed something she does that is effective and helps her move through things in not only a more professional way, but in a way that allows deeper learning.

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Her way is to look at everything as if it’s a puzzle or something to figure out, dissect and alter. This is a new way of thinking and being that will help you.

My client, when confronted with something new, or an issue, or even a correction, will pause for a moment, then comment, “Isn’t that interesting …,” as she allows her mind to work.

This does several things you can use too.

First, it shifts the energy from shock, dismay or any reaction that is negative, to one of curiosity and inquiry. The mere idea that anything new or presented is “interesting” makes it so.

Many people react with “That’s terrible!” or “Oh no!” or pure disbelief. This reaction, though common, puts the energy in a downward spiral. It becomes something to fix rather than something to learn from.

When you say to yourself or out loud, “Isn’t that interesting ….” You look at it differently, and you feel differently about it. The best part is, you begin to explore ways to work through things or seek the lessons in what has happened.

Making everything that is said or done, “interesting” shifts anyone else involved away from fear or turns excuses into calm and curiosity.

If in another’s mind they can think, “OK, not angry, not upset, just ‘interested,’” think how much easier it will be to work things through.

You can also use “interesting” to pave the way for new creative thinking.

Phrases that help creativity:

  • “What’s interesting about this is …”
  • “The interesting thing it seems is …”
  • “What do you think is interesting about this?”

When you find life, people, pets — anything — interesting, you’ll find your life more interesting, and you will come up with more creative — and yes, interesting — solutions. And a leader who uses “Isn’t that interesting …” in the face of a challenge or bad news has an immediate advantage by allowing others to relax, and by giving you time to think and find creative solutions.

Isn’t that interesting?

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