You’ll Never Catch a Dog By Chasing It.

July 20, 2009 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment


The Mindskills Approach to Coaching

By Wilfred S G Archer PhD; Chartered MCIPD; MIOSH; GHR(Reg)

Recently, as I thought about the problem of gaining people’s consensus and commitment to behavioural change, a story came to mind. I grew up in a small Ayrshire town and my main pet was a wise old German Shepherd bitch called Tina. When my elder brother and I were old enough we were allowed to take the old girl for walks.

One summer’s day, my father asked my brother and me to take Tina down the field and to be quick as we were going into town. We got down the field and let her run around for about five minutes then shouted “Tina, time to go home now. Come, get your leash on. Come on girl.” She looked up for a second then lowered her head and carried on sniffing around the bushes. She had decided that she was happy doing what she wanted and didn’t want to go home and anyway we were just kids so we could be ignored. We called again but this time with extreme authority, you know the type that only an eight year old kid can have, only to be ignored again. “We had better go and get her” my brother said ” ‘cos we’re going to be late if we stand around shouting any longer.” As we approached her, she, without looking up, walked away. So we sped up and as we did, so did she. We got faster and faster, and so did she. We were a picture, running through the field chasing and screaming after this dog but she was having none of it. Keeping just far enough out of reach so we couldn’t catch her. Exhausted we sat down on the grass. We looked at our watches and remembered my dad’s words. Half an hour had passed. We were in trouble. What were we going to do? We looked up and we could see the silhouette of my dad coming over the brow of the hill. “Now we are for it” my brother said. Expecting the worse, we began to cry and by the time my dad reached us we were sobbing. Through our tears we blubbered our excuses “She wouldn’t come when we shouted her. Honest we’ve been trying for ages but she just wouldn’t listen.” A large grin shot across his face. “You’ll never catch a dog by chasing it” he laughed in his broad Yorkshire voice. “If you want to get her to do what you want you have to make ‘what you want’ more interesting than what she is doing. You will need to lead her not follow her. Now call her to get her attention and run towards home. She will follow, nothing is surer.” We called her and without waiting ran towards home. Dad was right, Tina lifted her head, saw us running away and shot after us. I have no idea what was going through her mind but she started galloping after us, caught us, past us and was home before us.

So how does this apply to you?
The whole world is just like my old dog. They are totally focused on their lives and no matter how much you need them to listen they are engrossed in their own world.  It could be potential customers, clients, employees, managers or family. 

You could be advertising, running training, holding meetings, or even standing in the middle of the room screaming your head off at some aberrant teenager.  And you might just as well be talking to yourself. 

No One Is Listening and it is pointless blaming them because – guess what? They are not listening.

The Solution –  You need to Get Their Attention and To Follow Your Lead, otherwise you will be watching the world go round – a mere observer while others get there before you or just ignore you.   

The Mindskills Approach to Coaching helps you develop the Knowledge, Skills and Competencies to be the architect of your world and your life. 

“Where do I start?”  I hear you ask. 

To find Out How The Mindskills Approach can help you – For a Trial (No Cost/No Obligation) Coaching Session.

  Contact me on to arrange a chat. 

Wilf Archer   Blog:


Entry filed under: Coaching advice.

Workplace Violence – No excuse Hypnotic Spiral

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