Because I have struggled with mental toughness for the past 3 years in my sport, canine agility, originating from a difficult experience with a great dog, I've purchased a few of Mr. Bassham's books and look forward to receiving Mental Management's Monthly Newsletter. They always give me pause for thought and a resource when I feel myself slipping back into those old negative feelings.
I recently attended a week long agility camp with my dogs. The weekends before and after the camp held agility trials. One of my biggest hurdles the past 3+ years has been start line stays on my dogs. I have high drive dogs and impulse control at the start line is an obvious critical starting point. My dogs and I did well and improved greatly in our skills during the week of camp. There was no pressure in the learning situation. However, during the trials it was a struggle to keep my insides calm. Folks tell me I look so calm when I handle my dogs...if they only knew! When approaching the start line the past 3+ years I feel like I have been suffering from severe anxiety. I know that sounds funny coming from someone who is supposed to be doing this for fun but the anxiety can catch you at any time and throw you significantly off your game. When one is such a naturally driven competitor like I am, it is very disheartening to be this humbled and feel like you are starting over after competing for 5+ years and participating in the sport for approximately 10 years. FYI...I'm not a professional in this sport; I am a weekend warrior but not a novice sports competitor by any means.
What I want to share with you is that these past two weekends, when I found myself walking a course and thinking negatively, I thought of Mental Management and Lanny's words in the book "With Winning In Mind". I pushed out the negative thoughts immediately and instead focused on the positive I knew I could do. It was hard and I had to be very mindful to be diligent and stop the negativity right away. I purposely stayed away from folks during the walk throughs I heard saying "Oh, we won't be able to do this...This is too hard...We haven't worked on this sequence before". Instead I told myself that I and my dog could do this. Sometimes we succeeded and sometimes we didn't. But when we didn't it was because of handler error or the sequence was one we hadn't worked on before...what it wasn't was because I let that negativity inside my head and beat myself up. This awareness is a huge turning point for me! And one that I'm sure wouldn't have been recognized by me if I hadn't read Lanny's books and noticed the scenario that was taking place around me so that I could avoid it. What a gift! My Novice dog and I proceeded to have 8 awesome qualifying agility runs together...more than we have ever accumulated in two weekends!!! And, while I appreciate the qualifying scores as validation of our dedication, efforts and success together what I really appreciate is the personal growth and support that Mental Management Systems has given me. It is helping me become the teammate my dog deserves to have by her side. To have finally run together "in the zone" and "done the dance" for that brief minute or so...well there is just no feeling like it!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!
With sincere gratitude,
Donna Waugh, Gia and Minute (Champion Agility Dogs...In Training!!!)