know-it-all versus genius

The difference between a know-it-all and a genius is that a genius sometimes says, “I don’t know!

I came up with this one-line zinger last year when my brother kept telling me how to read MY dogs. Afterall, he’d had two dogs five years ago and he is a know-it-all.

I’ve been working my way through the issues Bud and I face, being in the dog agility business and all, with introducing new ways of thinking to students or campers who have studied dog agility for 1-5 years.

In all of our interactions with students and campers we shamelessly use them as a laboratory for learning. I hope I will never teach a lesson without learning something about people, about dogs, about dog-sport, or about life in general. So here’s what I learned this past week.

At the start of their agility career students absorb everything they hear, probably. After a year or so they start sifting through the debris and choosing what they’d keep. At 5 years a student of dog agility will usually have established a basic belief system against which they test new information.

By the time a person drives 800 miles to study with Bud they’ve probably got a belief system that is rock hard. I’m sure he runs into these rock-hard belief systems when he travels to seminars, and I’m equally sure he just keeps chipping away until he sees a glimmer of hope that a change might be possible.

Sometimes we get a camper who has been doing agility for many years and who says, “this information was exactly what I’ve been missing — it has changed the way I do agility and train my dog.”  Just as often, however, we get a camper who knows-it-all and who refuses to allow anyone to chip away at her belief system. (Tears often ensue.)

The former is why we continue to do this. The latter is why we continue to be needed. So I guess that’s what I worked out in my brain …

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