Follow My Lead: What Training My Dogs Taught Me About Life, Love & Happiness by Carol Quinn was our book for the October 2011 live Twitter chat #MyBookClub. 70 contributors tweeted 943 times to make this a fast and insightful hour.
From Follow My Lead “As I tried to understand how dogs think or how they’re motivated, I began to admire the utilitarian simplicity of a dog’s life. Clearly, they had a lot to teach me about living simply, with deep enjoyment, and acceptance. And in my conversations with Irina, I began a journey of self-discovery and self-mastery that would impact every area of my life.”
Carol was recently listed as one of the “Top 10 Inspiring People” by Lori Moreno. Spending this hour with Carol, everyone left feeling inspired and great conversations continued long after the chat was over. Getting to know Carol though her incredible book and then through working on #MyBookClub, I can tell you she is a truly special and wise person. Follow My Lead is a book that you can go back and re-read or give to someone as a gift. Treat yourself to reading it and you will not be disappointed.
Here is a summary from our fabulous one hour, live #MyBookClub event. My questions are bold and Carol's responses were originally in 140 characters for Twitter.
Q1 What inspired you to write Follow My Lead?
Throughout my agility training, I applied the lessons I was learning to my personal life. Dog agility is a perfect metaphor for life. In agility there’s competition, teamwork and communication involved. There are achievable goals and constant failures. It’s a race against time. To do agility well, you have to be flexible and assertive. Sound familiar? #LifeIsAnAgilityCourse When I mentioned my “life is like an agility course” theory to my teacher Irina, she said “you should write a book” and so, I did. I am an obedient student.
Q2 Who do you feel is your target audience for Follow My Lead?
My target audience is anyone who is at a crossroads in life, anyone needing encouragement to discover a new way of approaching the obstacles in their life. While this book has dogs as characters, and I wrote about learning from dogs. This book has more to do with personal transformation. Bad relationship? I was in one. Confused about life? Gosh, me too. Love dogs? Then this is the book for you. I wrote a book detailing all the mistakes I made in my life, some funny, some sad. And how my dogs taught me how to live a happier life. So, I’d say my target audience is anyone interested in personal transformation. And anyone who loves dogs!
“Handling my dogs became a test for my strength, commitment, bravery, and creativity as a person.”
Q3 Can you tell us a little about your dog’s Nairobi & Sheila who are at the heart of your story?
The book begins with my Rhodesian Ridgeback male, Nairobi. Nairobi is funny, goofy, athletic-just the best dog ever. Nairobi taught me how to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like taking a nap, just because. He’s the dog who taught me how to embrace “now” and have a little fun.And doing agility with Nairobi is amazing! He is my perfect agility partner.
My other Ridgeback Sheila was much more complicated. She was neurotic, fear-aggressive, and a handful. Training Sheila was a challenge-she had a squirrel fixation and would take off in the middle of class. Sheila got sick when she was younger, and we almost lost her. But her transformation through agility training was as profound as my own. Now, she’s a strong, healthy, athletic dog with a funny sense of humor. And she’s lost her fixation on squirrels! Just like I lost my fixation on my bad boyfriend!
Some dogs come into our lives to teach us things we need to know. All we have to do is listen to them.
Q4 Do you think that your life would be different if you had chosen a different breed of dog?
I’ve had many dogs in my life, mixed breeds and purebreds. Each dog came to me almost magically as if I needed that dog at that moment in my life. The Ridgebacks were different for me because I chose them.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are unusual dogs. They are a little on the wild side. Like many of us.
I think I’m a “hound” person deep down, and the breed matches my personality. I’m sure my life would be quite different if I had a border collie. I would definitely be running around more!
But there are so many dogs who need homes. I’m open to any dog who comes my way. I think all dogs change our lives–for the better.
“Dog behavior became a guide for following my instincts and using my common sense.”
Q5 Irina, your dog trainer, played an integral part in your story – can you talk about this relationship.
I think everyone has had a tough teacher at one point in life. Some teachers are like immovable obstacles-you just can’t get past them. The challenge is to learn the lessons without losing heart. My relationship with my teacher Irina was complex. She was forceful to the extreme.
But I think I needed that kind of strong energy in my life at the time. And no matter how difficult the process was for me, I did learn a lot from her.
Despite a teacher’s style, the learning can take place if the student is willing. Knowledge is one thing-imparting that knowledge with grace is another. While there was nothing graceful about our relationship, I received far more than I gave. A harsh teaching experience can sometimes lead to true wisdom-if you take your ego out of the mix.
Q6 Do you think that Irina’s tough love was fair to you?
Fair? I don’t know. Understandable? Yes. Irina was always focused on the dogs, not me My feelings were irrelevant to Irina. The dogs’ well being was paramount. Dogs need strong advocates. They are essentially dependent on us. So, Irina protected the dogs and I think she felt we humans could take care of ourselves
Q7 Your relationship with Henry was a challenging one. What do you feel you learned from it?
I learned that the “pack” concept applies to love and relationships. A good relationship requires a likeness of mind, values, and spirit. Loving someone who’s wrong for you is only possible if you stop listening to your instincts. Now, I follow my dogs’ lead. I trust my gut My mind can play tricks on me, but my instincts never fail.
Strangely, Henry read the book and loved it. That was immensely comforting to me. Truth can be quite healing, even when it’s a hard truth.
Q8 On pg 212 Hello World, you talk about being a private person. How has this book & experience changed that?
Well, that’s all over with! It’s not possible to be private after you’ve written a memoir. To be honest, it is awkward to write and talk about myself. I would far prefer to be talking about you! Transparency is its own reward, though. I treasure talks and chats with readers who respond to my story. Sharing an experience with others makes resonance possible. So, I’ve relinquished a certain amount of privacy in exchange for interaction. It’s worth it.
Q9 Can you talk about how your Social Media (blog, Twitter) started with this experience?
Writers need social. We have to discover our “pack” and social is the best way to do it. I have blogs for all of my projects, and I really love the process. And Twitter is just amazing! I have met so many wonderful friends here.
Q10 So what is up next for you, Nairobi & Sheila?
I’m working on my next book (fiction) I’m teaching, and Sheila and Nairobi are basking in the limelight. 🙂 When I write, they sleep under my desk, quite content. As long as they walk at least an hour a day, and they get a good dinner …life is good.
“Training my dogs became a way to train myself to become a confident, assured leader, and to assume the position of the alpha dog in my own life – to follow my own lead.”
Question from @TheHealthMaven: Did you find your bliss in writing? Carol: Yes!
Find out more about her on her Follow My Lead Facebook page. Please follow her on Twitter at @FollowMyLeadCQ and/or @ProjectQuinn.
Thank you SO much to Carol for her time and participation in #MyBookClub!!!
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Starting next month #MyBookClub is moving to Monday nights at 8 pm EST. Thanks for all your support!!
Upcoming #MyBookClub Guests @MariSmith w/ her new book The New Relationship Marketing Nov. 7th 8 pm EST/5 PST
Dec 5th JayBaer and AmberCadabra with The NOW Revolution 8 pm EST/ 5 pm PST
January 2nd Jason Falls with his new book: No BS Social Media. 8 pm EST/5 pm PST