Oscar Wilde

I celebrated my 63rd birthday last month. I spent the day traveling to New York for the Westminster Kennel Club show. It was pretty much the perfect way for this dog show junkie to celebrate the event. For some time now I have always spent part of my birthday musing about how well I am acquainted with myself. Don’t laugh. Oscar Wilde said, “Only the shallow know themselves.”

I began this self-examination some twenty years ago after entering a management development program designed to evaluate and train senior managers. At the outset I and my fellow managers were scored on twelve skills critical to effective leaders. One of these criteria was a need to seek approval. I was found to be exceptionally needy when it came to seeking the approval of others. Not only did I want to please my bosses, I wanted to get along with my peers and be well thought of by my employees. At the time, I thought this was an admirable character trait. However, after some soul searching, I had to admit, taken to the extreme, my need to be liked wasn’t always a good thing.

I sometimes was too indulgent with my children, too accepting of poor performance in my employees, and too frequently taken advantage of by others. My employers put me on a training regimen that I called “Just Say No” after the Nancy Reagan catch phrase. (I wasn’t a fan of Nancy’s approach, but the slogan was universally known.) Initially, it was painful to tell my boss she couldn’t have the report on the day she wanted, my assistant she couldn’t have the day off to go shopping and my wife that I wasn’t going to clean out the garage that weekend (that one was painful), but soon I was gleefully telling everyone “No, I don’t agree.”

Today I am pretty satisfied that I know what I believe, how I want to live & where I am going in my life. However, remembering Wilde and being of a somewhat empirical mindset, I require myself to listen to others, weigh their arguments and make my own decisions. It is an entirely gratifying process. I can’t imagine living any other way.

I thank all of you who have read my posts, especially those who took the time to send in a comment. I have read everyone of them, both here on Best In Show Daily and on my Dog Show Poop site.

I hope all of my fellow dog lovers will listen to both sides of this argument over who should make decisions about the welfare of their individual breeds and decide, for themselves, who they want to make those decisions. Here’s another of my favorite quotes from Oscar Wilde, “I am not young enough to know everything.” And that’s today’s Back Story.