Un-Still Life With Cavaliers: On Success

Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Blog, General | 8 comments

Well here we are again, another Dog Agility Bloggers Action Day.  All the successful dog agility bloggers, like me, will be writing today on the topic of “Success.”  Please check out the other blogs here.  There will certainly be a lot of different views on this subject.  It’s a great topic because there are so many different ways a writer can approach it.

My initial thought didn’t quite work out.  I was thinking that “success” begins with “suc.”  Kind of like you have to fail or be bad at something before you can succeed.  It was cute enough for me, but then I couldn’t figure out what the “-cess” meant.

A nice writing technique for addressing a one word topic is to state the dictionary definition of the word.  I looked at several online definitions of success (sorry I left my paper dictionary back in the 1980’s.)  My favorite was from thefreedictionary.com:  “The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.”mw-dictionary-186x300

What I like about this definition is that it is not based on any external validation.  It is the achievement of what I desire, what I plan or what I attempt.  It is not based on the accumulation of anything, or anyone else’s judgement.  Many of the other definitions contain words such as “wealth” “fame” “honor” “respect” “prosperity” or “position.”

I have desired, planned and attempted to earn agility championship titles with my dogs, and to beat the competition whenever we can.  I have succeeded.  Earning these titles made me happy, I felt they validated my abilities as a dog trainer and agility competitor.  I planned to train my dogs, attempted to do well in competition, made adjustments as I learned more about my dogs and agility, kept improving and working until I achieved what I had desired.



But there is so much more than this.  The titles were goals, and I am certainly proud of them, but they are once again external validation.  Abraham Maslow, in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and 1954 book “Motivation and Personality,” discussed the hierarchy of needs in humans.  Maslow believed that once people had satisfied the basic physiological and safety needs they could move on to higher levels.  The highest need is self-actualization, or as Maslow wrote, “What a man can be, he must be.”

Maslow was referring to reaching one’s full potential.  Again, I like this concept because I don’t have to beat world champions to reach my own full potential.  I am not being measured against anyone else, I just have to be the best I can be.

So that is what I would say about success, a bit intellectual and not overly cute:  figure out what you desire, plan to achieve it and don’t be afraid to attempt it.  Do not judge yourself against other people, work to realize your own full potential and you will be successful.  Don’t worry about what others are achieving.  And be nice, you can do all this without being an a**

I hope you found this post didn’t “suc.”  Remember to see what other dog agility bloggers are saying about success here.

As always comments will be moderated for a few days and then I’ll move on to something else.


  1. YES! Great commentary. Personally I have very few ribbons, but we still succeed sometimes because we dare to make the attempts…. 😀

    • Thanks Sally!

  2. Nice post! It has been on my mind a lot lately how difficult it is to maintain our personal success goals in the world of social media, with this barrage of videos of everyone’s stellar puppy and training adventures. It makes it harder not to judge oneself against others, but it is so important to believe in the dog that you have and be patient with your personal goals.

    • Hadn’t even thought about the pressure from all the stellar puppy videos, great comment!

  3. I love the clarity of the internal vs external validation!

    • Thanks! Every once in a while I find clarity, thanks for your validation!

  4. Great article! I always try to compete against myself, and find those victories to be much more satisfying than any Q.

    • Thanks, it was a great topic to write about.


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