As a writer, I am often schooled by my dog, Dewey. Even in the career communications (resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters) I write each day, he teaches me to be a more empathic listener and as a result, a more enthusiastic chronicler of my clients’ stories.
Before Dewey, I had Shems, who taught me even more. He was a 105+ pound stray – a mix of wolf, hound, and poet. Like his namesake Shemsi Tabriz, the beloved teacher of 13th Century mystic Rumi, this dog was a great teacher.
After slightly more than a year of blissful family life together, Shems was diagnosed with bone cancer. Osteosarcoma is usually terminal, but if you excise the tumor soon enough, there’s a slight chance your dog will survive, or at least live out his shortened days without significant pain. We went for it and amputated his left, back leg.
When I picked him up two days post-op, I tried to be as strong as he was about it but nearly fainted at the site of him dragging himself along the floor to greet me. He took it all with his characteristic dignity. Once he was ambulatory, though, he had to wear The Cone. Though referred to by veterinarians as the Victorian collar, the cone is not a dignified garment for dogs. Designed to keep them from worrying their wounds, the cone has its place. But it also limits vision, sustenance, and openness as it stifles a dog’s instincts for self-care. Shems hated it.
One afternoon I took him out in his cone into the yard for his constitutional and some air. He hung his head as he trudged and hobbled. His gloom was so palpable, I didn’t have the heart to keep the cone on him. I unsnapped it, removed it from around his neck, and held it in my hands. He looked expectantly from the cone in my hand to me. I held his gaze for a minute, then nodded my acquiescence and put the cone around my own neck.
He smiled. He pranced. He laughed and in his new tripod gait danced circles around me. We played in this way – me in the cone, he in his freedom – until we were both breathless. I took off the cone, tossed it into the grass, and sat down. Shems laid down next to me, his head in my lap.
That wonderful dog did not last long as a tripod. The amputation bought him only about nine months. But the lessons he taught me will last my lifetime, the biggest one being: don’t limit yourself, throw away the cone!
Today in my work as a writer I find that some of my clients wear the cone. They are not dogs, certainly. But some seem held back as Shemsi did in his cone. Feeling trapped in an unloved job, some of my clients opt for safety and the known over freedom, and possibly joy. A well-written resume can unshackle them. By shining light on their greatest attributes and strengths, a good resume (or cover letter or LinkedIn profile) boosts my clients’ confidence and backs it up with thoughtfully presented historic data.
Is it time for you to shed the limitations of your own cone and find a little freedom (and yes, possibly joy) in your career? Call me. I can put the cone on for you (metaphorically speaking) to show you how it limits your potential, I promise you’ll smile and maybe even dance, especially when you regain your sense of freedom in that new job.