Play to Your Strengths – Good for the Dog; Good for You

Honey the Golden Retriever wrestles with Bandit the foster puppy.

We’re not really fighting. It’s just a little muddy mischief.

Some of the foster dogs we care for don’t like Honey. Or any dog, really.

They tell her they don’t want to play. And she leaves them alone.

But if you want to see Honey at her best, watch her when a playful dog comes to stay with us. Like Bandit, our current foster puppy.

Good Dog Play

Honey loves to wrestle, chase, and play bitey face with other dogs. She’s good at handicapping herself so she’s not too rough. Especially with a puppy.

Honey endures all the indignities life with a puppy offers:

  • intrusive hunts for a nipple
  • face humping
  • stolen toys
  • having her tail sat upon.

And she does it with a serene look of patience, even a relaxed smile. Because the puppy rudeness is a prelude to what Honey does best: play.

The Easy Life is OK

I have a knack for doing things the hard way.

It’s almost a religion. Anything worth doing should be really, really difficult.

But what would happen if I played to my strengths?

Instead of struggling to do things I find difficult, should I concentrate on becoming better at things I already do well?

I’ll never be a techie computer person, no matter how many workshops or webinars I take. But perhaps I could become a good writer with work. Or an in-demand public speaker instead of one who’s only fairly popular and enthusiastic.

Maybe I’m wasting my time working on my weaknesses.

I’d certainly love to be a champion of my skills and strengths the way Honey is a champion playmate.

Honey the Golden Retriever plays bitey face with Bandit the foster puppy.

I look pretty scary, don’t I?

Playmate of the Year

I’m thankful Honey is tolerant of visiting dogs who don’t like to play. But I don’t plan to make her practice that talent too much. At least not without a break.

The more Honey plays with other dogs, the better her skills get. She went from being a bossy puppy getting into everyone’s face to a grown dog with good sense.

By playing to her strengths, Honey has become a superstar foster-sister.

Maybe it’s time for me to do the same thing. After all, playing to our strengths is good for the dog. And for me.



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  1. I agree Pamela, we’d probably all be happier if we focused on the things we do well, imagine the stress we would alleviate? 😉

  2. I tend to think that we do better when we focus on our strengths — or our strong interests. I don’t think I’m a great technical photographer, but it was something I was really interested in and so I kept picking up the camera and learning about it. Writing is more of a natural talent that I’ve always had and it’s something that comes very easy for me. The process I go through to be good at each is different, but each is rewarding in its own way, if that makes sense.

    When I look for something that I really want to pursue, I always seek an element that I already feel good at, though! I tend to play things safer in that area!

  3. As always, good advice. I think it’s natural to play to your strengths…usually. Sometimes we let ourselves get caught up in doing something you’re not crazy about and so your avoid it and so you’re not good at it. Kind of a vicious circle. Too bad we couldn’t make a play/chase circle like dogs do 😉

  4. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband:
    I’ve decided to play to my strengths by focusing on my speling.

  5. Thanks so much for the book, it arrive today and will post about it on thursday:-)

  6. I read somewhere that Americans focus so much on shoring up weaknesses instead of building strengths to the detriment of society as a whole. I certainly found that I was happier when I stopped focusing on what I wasn’t good at and started building onto the foundation of my already apparent knacks and skills.

  7. Good words of wisdom :)

  8. This is really hard for me. I’m a DIYer. (And a bit of a perfectionist control-freak…) If it’s remotely possible that I can do it myself, then I’ll try. Like, I could have hired someone to do my web site for me, but I knew just enough techy stuff to attempt it myself, so I did. And, yes, it could probably look fancier and more professional, but I kinda like that I was able to do it myself. (Maybe I’m just cheap…) :) Still, I hear what you’re saying. I guess this means I should hire someone to clean my house since I’m not all that good at it…. (then again, there’s the fact that Rita hates strangers in the house, so I know I never will!)

  9. I love this post!! Figuring out what we are really good at and DOING that is what we should be focusing on instead of trying to be “better” at other things. Dogs are so smart. :)

  10. Callie’s like Honey — except right now she’s not supposed to be playing with other dogs so I really have to watch her — very careful about how roughly she plays with Ducky so she doesn’t hurt her. I’m not sure Shadow realizes how much bigger than Ducky she really is (80 lbs vs 25 lbs), especially since Ducky thinks of herself as a big dog.

  11. Haha! Cushion is always telling me I like doing things the hard way. Little does he know, I can’t actually see any other way to do it 😉

  12. Great Fearsome Face!

  13. Bandit and Honey sure look like they are having fun. How nice that they get along so well. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  14. Have you ever read StrengthsFinder 2.0? The premise is that you find your top 5 strengths and work on further developing those. If I remember right, the book claims that you should spend time developing your strengths because it will get you further than spending all of your time trying to “patch the holes” or fix weaknesses (because developing strengths is easier than trying to “correct” weaknesses). I am like you though, I seem to gravitate toward things that are hard for me.