Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finding Your Yoda

I heard this phrase the other day, in reference to which trainer(s) an individual respected or followed. The man asked "is he your Yoda?"

Most of us who have trained for any length of time can identify our Yoda. Generally your Yoda is someone whose methods you like, and whose accomplishments you aspire to. You would not model yourself after someone who had not achieved the same goals you set for yourself! That would be like wanting to break into a business and following the advice of the janitor. Yes, he works in the same building but he has no personal knowledge of how to get from the Point A to the Point B you wish to.

For newcomers to dog sport, your Yoda could be someone else in the club whose has earned those titles you are working toward, who understands the rules and how to train for that level, who can guide you through the process. Or it could be a trainer that you work with regularly. Yoda's can also change. As you progress in your own training and accomplishments you will naturally seek out someone who has once again achieved more than you.

The problem in not having a Yoda is that you have no one to model yourself after, and the goals become difficult to visualize. You find yourself led in conflicting directions by well meaning advice. And worst of all, you may be receiving advice from people who are the "janitors" of the sport. How will you recognize them? The easiest way to recognize the false prophets is that when everyone else is working dogs, they are standing on the sidelines, either disagreeing with what is being done or giving advice to any victims within range. They always have a better way or could do better, but yet amazingly, have never titled a dog! Maybe they even coaxed a title out of one, but it has never been repeated, or they purchased a trained dog and are now telling you how to raise a puppy. We can all think of someone who meets this description. To us they are mildly annoying, but to a maleable newcomer to the sport, they can be downright dangerous. They monopolize the new member and serve to fracture cohesiveness of a club.

Another means of recognizing these people is through their use of scientific terms. The impression is that they must know what they are talking about, since they use lengthy phrases to describe it. The implication is also that if you do not understand, then you are more ignorant and should pay attention to them. They talk, but they cannot "do". They may also refer to their own Yoda, but knowledge of a well known name does not make them a trainer.

In the example at the beginning of the story, the woman answering said that this man was her Yoda for certain aspects of her training. You may find that you draw from the experience of several people whose work you admire, but for different parts of your training. Becasue people are not always equally gifted in all areas, it makes sense to seek out the most accomplished in each. Or the most accomplished that is accessible to you.

When you audition Yodas, seek out a person in the position you aspire to whose methods you like and are comfortable with. You may not elect to make the same sacrifices as they did to reach that point, but can take the positive aspects that apply to your work. You might determine you cannot ethically do the things that they did to reach those goals. There are some things I simply will not compromise my ethics on, in order to reach the podium. And you might find that you have several Yodas, at different levels of accessibility. This could include a trainer with whom you work regularly in seminar, and your club training director. Understand that someone else may have a different Yoda that suits their needs and goals. It does not make them wrong, only different UNLESS they set out to undermine other members with critcism and argument.

In time you may find yourself in the position to be Yoda to a new member. And, as Yoda said" NOT THINK. DO."