In the Know column: Life lessons from dog sledding trip

When the dogs were working together in unison and pulling in the same direction there was a peaceful solitude along with a powerful energy and momentum.

By Carl Vaagenes, CEO of Alomere Health

My wife and I enjoy trying new adventures so last year we decided to try a half-day dog sledding trip for our anniversary. Our experience in Ely got me thinking about valuable life lessons based on several experiences during that half-day adventure. I have compiled this list based on my observations from the time that the dogs were being taken out and returned back to their kennels. Here’s my list of the most valuable life lessons from our dog sledding trip.

  1. It seemed like pure chaos as the dogs barked incessantly while being taken out of their kennels and set up to pull the sleds. They were excited about doing what they had been created to do. What do you get excited about and how do you openly share your excitement with others?

  2. Carefully putting the dogs in the right position on each team was extremely important to the team’s success. Likewise, every one of us has talents and abilities and at times we may find ourselves in a different position depending on the situation. How often do you take time to know and align the strengths of others to maximize their God given potential?

  3. The view of the dogs was different depending on where they were placed on the team. The lead dogs had a more comprehensive view of the terrain. The dogs behind the lead team put their heads down and focused on following, trusting the lead dog. Likewise, if you’re leading, you have a lot more responsibility and it can be very important that you share your vision with those who may not see what you see. Everyone’s sense of adventure and desire to join you could be hampered or enriched based on the vision that is shared.

  4. When the dogs were working together in unison and pulling in the same direction there was a peaceful solitude along with a powerful energy and momentum. Are you generally someone who helps to pull in the same direction or do you often find yourself trying to resist and pull in the opposite direction? How do you try to create unity along with peace and solitude in your relationships?

  5. One of the first things you’re taught is where the brakes are on the sled. The purpose of the brakes are to slow the sled down if it’s getting too close to another sled, or to avoid dangerous terrain. Similarly, it’s important to have people in our lives that help us by pointing out when we may be going too fast and warn us when we are possibly heading into danger.

  6. The dogs can be very territorial and conflict can arise very quickly so it’s important that the musher is tuned in to the team. Similarly, in our relationships with others, it’s important to be respectful when conflicts arise and can also be very helpful to address tension immediately before it gets ugly and out of hand.

  7. When the dogs are pulling, they are completely quiet and all you hear is the sound of the sled gliding through the snow and the panting of the dogs as they are focused on pulling the sled. As soon as the sled stops, the dogs start barking. As in life, when we have idle time, we can get sucked into channeling our energy in a not so positive way and can sound like a barking dog. Are you surrounding yourself with people who bring positivity or negativity into your life?

  8. The owner said that the dogs were going to be rewarded and the end of the day with a big steak. Likewise, it’s important that we not take each other for granted and miss the opportunity to show our appreciation for others for a job well done.

We loved our experience and hope that by sharing our story, it provided a glimpse into these valuable life lessons we learned along the way. If this provided some thought provoking actions that can motivate you in your relationships, I would love to hear from you.
Carl Vaagenes is the CEO of Alomere Health in Alexandria. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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