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Staying Ahead of the Pack When it comes to Change

  Maeve Davis

As the world becomes faster and more deadline-driven, I believe we all struggle to spend time doing personal activities we love. Reading is something that I have loved since childhood. Many hours of my youth were spent tucked away with something special I found at the local library. It continued right through my teenage and early adult life; each story was a new opportunity to be swept away to a different world, with new characters. Today, in my adult life, my only reading exploits are management reports, business blogs, magazines, and newspapers.

Ready to re-embrace the comforting world of books, I recently committed to reading every Canadian Giller Prize short-list novel. The most recent was Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis. The premise of the novel is a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo to grant human consciousness and language to a group of random dogs that are staying overnight at a vet clinic. A stretch for me…but I was determined to get through it.

While reading this novel, I found myself shifting into my Harvard Business Review mindset. This newly conscious dog pack, with all their complex human emotions and thoughts, formed alliances and became divided so quickly. In the dogs’ natural inclination to take sides and essentially establish camps, I recognized the human behaviour that we witness in various ways every day. The older dog, Atticus, immediately assumed the role of pack leader, while the slightly younger dog, Majnoun, thoughtfully embraced new attitudes and identified how best to interact with a new world. The other dogs naturally followed their instincts and stood behind the two leaders based on their unique emotional leanings.

I won’t give away the outcome, but fate did not look kindly on the Atticus pack, which simply would not accept their newfound gifts, and condemned any member of the pack who appeared to do so.

Drawing a parallel with my own life and work experience, I think we all have met people who do not grasp what we consider progress and advancement. These individuals cling to the past and are frightened of change, steadfast in their conviction that the old ways have worked, and ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality.

Meanwhile, the world around them continues to evolve — often at a rapid pace.

Fifteen Dogs not only reminded me of how thrilled I was to explore new ideas as a child, but it also brought to mind the need to welcome newness as an adult.

Now onto Outline by Rachel Cusk!

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