You have heard the cliches like; you must risk much to gain much. It is so true especially when you are a student. This comes up now because today I start the first of 12 days teaching in Florida. I want so much for each student at these camps to get the most out of their learning experience. Truthfully though, that doesn’t always happen.

One of the biggest reasons people rarely get the best education out of a working seminar is that they are are afraid to fail in front of someone they respect (an instructor) or their peers (friends) in the group. As writer Ambrose Redmoon said best “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important that fear.”

In this case, what needs to be more important than your fear is the opportunity to learn. However too often what happens if someone struggles with a handling sequence is that they decides to sit the next one out, often feeling depressed or inadequate. Or if it is a dog training seminar, each time I walk by to take a peak at what they are doing they suddenly decide to start a marathon of tugging with their puppy so I don’t get a chance to see them train.

I know it can be scary to put yourself out there, risking potential humiliation. But as the Robert F. Kennedy said “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” That is why I believe that pride, the fear of failure and the need for certainty create the formula for someone aspiring to no more than mediocrity. I know that can’t be true or else why come to a workshop in the first place?

Everyone wants to be the “star” in class but that ego really does hold you back from reaching your potential. It is your struggles that give way to any potential brilliance. It is learning from a place of weakness. It is allowing your teacher to see yours and your dog’s imperfections that gives you the opportunity to learn how to improve. Laugh at your struggles because it is through those struggles that the seeds of greatness are sown.

Sure some instructors (perhaps even me in the past) may have appeared to take just a little too much joy in pointing out someone’s lack of skill. As a student it is crucial to not allow yourself to get emotional here, regardless of how much the words may sting.

I realize as an instructor, that the greatest way to inspire change in a student is to reinforce that which is good. Regardless there are times when the messages comes across in a way that the student’s pride doesn’t want to be fed. . Please don’t let that pride steal away even one opportunity for your advancement. Take the message, discard any ill emotions you may associate with the delivery, and make the necessary adjustments to be brilliant. Recognize every one should be entitled to an off day. Perhaps your instructor, that came off as a bit sharp ,was just having theirs.

Make a joke (to yourself, inside) of any perceived harshness you think this teacher was showing, pick yourself up, press on and grab a hold of every ounce of information that may be available to you at that moment. You paid for it, you deserve it and your dog deserves all the help you can gather for him.

Think about what you gave up to be at that clinic. Let alone the financial investment of the cost of the seminar, the travel costs to be there, the hotel, meals. But think about the time off work, the time away from your family or other productive things you could be doing. Make a decision to get the most out of ever educational opportunity by not being afraid to fail. It doesn’t matter that you may be an instructor yourself or that your own students may be watching. Take your lumps, learn from every opportunity and by all means let us see you and your dog at your worst. That is the only way anyone can help you to become your best on a consistent basis.

So my question to all of you is; what is holding you back from becoming the best that you can be? Please don’t let it be a little thing like pride or humility.

I will leave you with a few quotes.

There is only on thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience. 
Archibald Mcleish

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. 

No one ever won a chess game by betting on each move. Sometimes you have to move backward to get a step forward. ~Amar Gopal Bose

Failure is the tuition you pay for success. ~Walter Brunell

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. ~Abraham Lincoln

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. ~Louis Boone

If there exists no possibility of failure, then victory is meaningless. ~Robert H. Schuller

Humility, that low, sweet root, From which all heavenly virtues shoot.~ Thomas Moore

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. ~Theodore Roosevelt

Today I am grateful to be teaching in balmy Florida. Okay, as you can tell by this picture taken ringside at the trial here is southCanadians head south for a Florida agility trial. Florida on the weekend, it actually isn’t too balmy.  But we all know you have to have suffered a position of loss to best appreciate the sweet season of success. The forecast is for great warmth later this week. Bring it on!