The Five Be's

Wet Dog

Have you ever seen a dog shaking the water out of their coat? Most dogs really love the water, and they often come out smiling and soaked. If you’re too near them when they decide to dry themselves, you’ll end up as wet as they were!  It’s an apt analogy to how we meet adversity and societal drama.

The Family Language

One of my bride’s most endearing traits is to come up with shorthand phrases for things that have become our own little family language. Every family and group has their own inside jokes and mine is no different. For example, sometimes we call the TV remote the “Boop” which is shortened from an inside joke when we called it the “BoobTube Control Device” (long story for another time). There’s dozens of examples like that. 

Another one of her cute phrases she taught the kids was “wet dog.” As military kids, they were often the new kids in school. As kids are sometimes mean, occasionally our kids were on the receiving end of some unkind comments – so my wife taught them to “shake it off” by using the analogy of a wet dog getting all the water off his coat.  (This was, by the way, well before Taylor Swift made “shake it off” famous). Whenever our kids would come home discouraged or sad because someone had treated them badly at school, all my bride had to do was look at them and say, “wet dog,” and the mental image alone was usually enough to get them to giggle.

I think it’s time for my bride to give our entire country that “wet dog” prompt.

Social Media is Not Life

If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know this is not the first time I’ve written about the ills of social media. The “TweetFace” platforms have, in some cases, become simultaneously indispensable communications channels and places where the worst of human interaction is on display. Social media is decidedly not real life – we are our own “public affairs officers” and many of us aren’t very good at it.

Where am I going with this? Just this: our fellow humans all have their own ideas and beliefs, and we need not allow the perceived pressure of being a “supah stah” on BookFace or TweetTube to creep into our own mental health or how we treat each other. Let’s face it, few of us are going to be “Influencers” and trying to be one just sets us up for disappointment. Also, and I’ve learned this too late in life, our opinions may seem to be right, but others think they’re right, too.!

The Thumper Rule applies here, our fellow Americans, our fellow Earthlings, are all entitled to their opinions and are not required to agree with us. To put it bluntly, our fellow Americans are not the enemy just because they have a different idea about something than we do.

This Too, Shall Pass

We have elections in the United States every 2 years, and every 4 years the president is on the ballot. I know, there are many serious issues on the ballot by virtue of the candidates and the party platforms, and this election of 2020 seems very consequential indeed.

That said, the genius of the American system is that it is very hard to do anything radial without a clear majority of the electorate and the three branches of government on board. I suspect the frustration feeding the current climate has a lot to do with the lack of a consensus among Americans about how we want to move forward. We’ve had politicians of all sorts before in our history – from sober statesmen and women of stature to “bomb throwers” and several outright kooks. We’ve survived them and we’ll survive the current “Age of Rage.” This too, shall pass.

But we’ll survive all this drama with our souls intact only if we heed Thumper and start shaking things off like a “Wet Dog” a bit more, and develop a bit more of a sense of humor. Our fellow Americans are our fellow Americans. No matter who wins what office tomorrow, the sun will come up on Wednesday, we still have to go to work and school. There are club meetings to attend, holidays to plan, doctors appointments to keep, and projects to do. Life goes on, an — you get the idea.

So if “your team” doesn’t win tomorrow, believe me, it’ll be OK. Celebrate or weep – whatever you need to do – then get on with the business of living your life. If “your team” does win tomorrow, remember your neighbors are likely not celebrating and have some grace.

Just like that “Wet Dog”, we can shake off the “water” of discontent and get on with our lives. We might even be able to do that with some humor and a smile if we work at it.


Mickey is an expert in leadership and organizational change. During his 30 year US Air Force career Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. Mickey now works with clients around the country to improve performance and help organizational transformation. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington DC. Mickey is the author of eight books, including Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating TeamsMickey’s Rules for Leaders, and The Five Be’s: A Straightforward Guide to Life.

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