Life is strange – sometimes things come together in the most peculiar ways.
I am a trained Personality Dimensions facilitator. Personality Dimensions is a way at looking at people and personality. A little like the Myer Briggs personality inventory (which I have also done lots of work with). It’s the Canadian version of “True Colors”. People are all plaid but have predominant colour associations. This profile also looks at introversion and extroversion as traits.

It turns out I’m very consistently strongest in Authentic Blue and an introvert. I am not shocked by either of these findings. I’m a very well socialized introvert, I like people, but I get my energy from within myself. As much as I enjoy people they take energy from me rather than giving it to me. As I have gotten back in a competitive milieu my Resourceful Orange is getting stronger. This also isn’t shocking. I am actually a fairly well balanced plaid when I need to be- pulling out the traits I need when I need them.

As a leader that means I tend to lead pretty discreetly. I was surprised when my boss recognized how much leadership I have contributed to a particular project. There are other folks responsible for the project but there were a couple of organizational aspects that needed intervention and got them from me. A conversation with him got me thinking about leadership generally yesterday.

Today I tripped across a book about the O’Connors. They are an eventing couple from the US who I have long admired. I clearly recall David O’Connor riding at a Canadian event and being quite star struck many years ago. The book was fascinating to me (I evented when I rode so many years ago) bits and pieces struck me because of their application to my current sport. One sidebar piece asked if readers knew if their horse was a leader or a follower. That concept stopped me in my tracks. I identified the horses I knew best and worked through deciding if they were leaders or followers. Then I took it a step further and applied my thinking to the dogs I live with. I didn’t think about the old school “dominant” and “submissive” but truly about the personality of the dogs – and their leadership styles. When I considered the dominant and submissive terms I was surprised to realize the pairings were not what I expected.

Brody is most certainly an introvert – although in the last two years he’s gotten much less aloof and is now happy to meet and greet people. He is not a real follower, he won’t blindly follow, but he is quite happy to accept what is to his mind sane leadership. He rarely won’t do something if asked nicely. In old school dog terms I would think many people would say he was a dominant dog (he grumbles about things sometimes) – but he isn’t.

Thea is an extrovert especially with people. She is charming, funny, brave, bold and you can see her pulling energy from her fans. She is most certainly a follower. She works, and likes it but likes being told what to do and how to do it.

Sally is as extroverted as a living being can be. She loves meeting new _____ (people, dogs, cats, rabbits – fill the blank in as you wish). She, in traditional terms, is quite submissive or soft I suspect but she is a real leader. If she were a horse she would end up being that lovely school horse most riders can identify with – the one who does exactly what you want if you ask right but just stops and stares around the ring if the aids are not correct (by her definition). She is quite opinionated and not afraid to share her point of view. She is happy to work as part of a team (thank heavens or I’d be suicidal by now) but if the team isn’t playing the game she will carry on and make up something entertaining.

The O’Connors suggest being very honest with yourself about your own personality to find a compatible match. I suspect my plaid personality is part of why I can enjoy working with such very different dogs. I’m not particularly anthropomorphic in nature but I do find this concept interesting to mull over.

Some other good agility take-aways from this book about horses and horse people:

remembering a course:

  • break the course into segments
  • use visualization
  • never think about where you’ve been
  • focus forward
  • think in slow motion

all horses think the same way take what you know about one horse and apply it to the next recognizing they are all individuals; learn from all sports to take what is useful to your sport – this just makes too much sense when applied to agility .. and dogs ..

there is a good section on handling death too but that might need to be it’s whole own post!