People Are Messy


poop bagDo you like dogs?  Do you have a dog?

We don’t have a dog, though, we had 3 dogs over the course of my childhood.

Our first dog was Spooky.  My dad said he was a cross between a weasel and a pine tree stump.  Truth be told we didn’t quite know what kind of dog he was, except that he had some poodle in him.

Spooky had bad habits.  When guests came over and left their shoes at the front door he would urinate in them.  When my mother would bring in the groceries, in paper bags, she would put them on the floor prior to unpacking them.  Spooky would urinate on the bags.

Another one of his detestable habits, once again, involved a bodily function.  After he had gone outside to defecate, he would come upstairs and drag his bottom along the length of the hallway carpet in what appeared to be an attempt to wipe himself clean with the carpet fibres.

I know, it’s disgusting.

My older sister took Spooky to a dog psychologist to try to figure out what was wrong.  According to the canine counselor, he was acting out because he didn’t like his name.  So, we changed his name to Bourbon.

Nothing changed.

Sadly, Bourbon was hit by a car and died.  We then got another dog, an Afghan.  Big beautiful dog – very little brain.  My sister liked the glamourous image of an Afghan with long flowing blonde hair sitting beside her in her convertible MGB.

Countless clean-ups of bodily functions on the carpets; innumerable holes dug in the back yard; chewed and torn goods strewn all over the house – these were the gifts presented to us by Cherub.  Who was anything but angelic.

The straw that broke my father’s back was when Cherub chewed the arms of his beloved avocado green leather Lazy-Boy Recliner.  “Get rid of that “@!%# dog!!!” was the edict given my sister.  Cherub was given away.

Then came Rascal.  A little rapscallion mutt he was.  He had a bad habit of staying out all night barking until he felt like coming in very early in the morning.  Back then people just let their dogs roam freely around their neighbourhoods.

And of course, nobody picked up dog feces.

There are 2 things I don’t understand about dog owners.  1.  Why do they think everyone loves their dog as much as they do?  2.  The whole concept of picking up your dog’s poop in a baggy, then tossing it out so it can live on forever in a land fill perfectly preserved in its plastic encasement.


However, millions of people the world over are willing to put up with all kinds of canine shenanigans, in addition to picking up their dog poop in their hand shielded only by a transparently plastic sleeve.  They love their dogs.

Some people train their dogs well, others don’t – much like my family.  One thing will not change regardless of how well you train a dog: dogs will always have to relieve themselves.  Responsible dog owners teach their dogs to do it outside, but one way or the other dogs have to go.

I asked a CEO what she loved most about her business, “My people.”, was her reply.  “What do you hate most about your business?”, I further inquired.  “My people.”, was once again her response.

The truth is, like dogs, where there are people there’s poop.  People are messy.  No matter how well trained they are, there are always messes to clean up.  Sure, great training eliminates a world of issues, but we all create messes from time to time.

An old proverb says,

“Where there’s no Ox the stall is clean.  But great gain comes from the strength of an Ox.”

People create great gains in our organizations.  People are the true value in any company.  However, people are messy.  Cleaning up messes is part of leadership.

Better training decreases the messes, but it won’t eliminate them.  There’s no sense getting upset every time there’s a little mess to clean up – it’s part of the job.

Get over it.  People are messy, but great gains come from the strength of our people.

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Leading and Living on Purpose.