For most of my life, I have unapologetically called myself a ‘dog person’ and I’ve learned countless lessons from my steady, fun-loving water-dog (that’s a different blog altogether). I always liked cats, but they were ‘just cats.’
That changed with a decision to adopt a cat five years ago; a move that altered my perspective and taught me some important workplace lessons about living fearlessly and showing up.
Perhaps it’s because it’s summer and a less formal blog feels appropriate, or maybe it’s because I think professional and playful can coexist…but stick with me to the end; I am actually going somewhere with this.
In no particular order, here are the lessons Olive has taught me:
1 – Sometimes you have to bite the hand that feeds you
Only so often, never hard enough to hurt and only when it is earned. Occasionally you have to remind everyone that you’re a Wild Freaking Animal with an opinion.
2 – Always have your priorities in order
Know what you want, and ask for it. I’m not just glad you’re here to feed me, but let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. Food, comfort, fun…in that order.
3 – Chase what you want
Life is an adventure, and it’s yours to explore. A toe under a blanket or a spring under the fridge: go get that shit. Nobody is going to do it for you.
4 – There’s fun in everything
Seriously. Running around in the middle of the night, ambushing the dog, chasing a shadow on the wall…game on. You know why? Because I can and it’s awesome.
5 – Let people know when you’re happy
Let them know when they bring you joy; they’re a little dense and they don’t know unless you make it obvious. That giant purr? Golden.
6 – And also when you’re seriously unhappy
It’s important that they know your boundaries. If it’s unpleasant, let the dense human know (fortunately, Olive taught this lesson only with volume).
7 – Spend your energy on the people that are worth it
If they aren’t, bury that negativity in the litter box and move on. You have to earn your stripes – nothing is free and little is forgotten.
8 – Find your sunny spot and own it
When you’re just where you’re meant to be, life is so good. Lounge, enjoy, invite friends.
“That’s great, Cheryl…I can’t believe you passed that off as a professional blog.”
Stay with me…
From a workplace perspective, that list might look something like this:
1 – Show up to be seen and heard
Share your opinions. It’s a waste to ‘live out your career’ trying to fly under the radar or avoid getting fired. Make noise when something is important, but don’t do it to hurt anybody. If you’re passionate about it, go get it.
2 – Know your priorities
The basics count; if people don’t feel safe or have their basic work-needs met, you’ll be unlikely to get the best out of them. What is important in the short and the long-term? Start with the basics and end with the frills; it’s what effective workplaces do.
3 – Go after the things that you want
Search out what “sets your soul on fire” and pursue it relentlessly. What are you passionate about, and how can you incorporate that into your work? Do you have an idea that needs to be heard? Be fearless and be seen.
4 – Life is too important to be taken seriously
Search for the fun. Laugh at the things that are absurd or unpleasant. Not every day has to be amazing to be worthwhile. This too will pass.
5 – Be thankful when the people around you are doing something fantastic
Say it out loud, be grateful, celebrate the good. There’s lots of it; practice gratitude.
6 – Set clear expectations and make corrections when they aren’t met
Mind reading isn’t a thing yet, so you have to tell people when they aren’t meeting your needs. If someone is doing something wrong, you have to use your words and actions to let them know.
7 – Follow leaders that have earned your time and attention
Not everyone deserves your energy. “Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.” If you are the leader, earn your team’s attention every single day.
8 – Celebrate when you are where you should be
If you’ve found your sunny spot, help others get to theirs. When your sunny spot moves (and it will move), adjust. You can wait for the sun to return to that spot tomorrow, but there’s a lot of wasted time in between.
Here’s my point: the cat gets it. She owns her day pursuing the important things, and firmly but kindly sets boundaries, communicates her needs and gets important cat-stuff done. If a cat can figure that out, maybe there’s hope for the rest of us…
Cheryl Krestanowich is a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Acuity HR Solutions where she executes on clients’ staffing needs and provides on-site Recruitment training for Hiring Managers. For more information about Acuity HR, visit https://acuityhr.ca or find us on LinkedIn and Instagram!