01/06/2015 05:39 pm ET Updated Mar 08, 2015

What I Learned About Life From a Dog Trainer

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This past weekend I visited the home of a friend who has two really big dogs. This is the first time I had been there and while I'm not afraid of dogs, it can be intimidating to walk in when they are barking like mad. It's not that they are mean or aggressive, they just want attention, so they'll jump on you to get it when you walk in.

My friend's husband met me out in the driveway and said he'd get me in the house no problem.

"What you have to do," he said, "is walk in and totally ignore the dogs. I want you to walk around the entire first floor twice, and whatever you do, do not pay the dogs any mind. After your second lap, the dogs will know you are the alpha dog, and then they will calm down. The alpha dog always ignores the rest of the pack."

The alpha dog always ignores the rest of the pack.

For some reason, that stuck with me and when I got home later that evening I thought about it. Do you want to be an alpha dog? I do; not in the sense that I think that I'm better than anyone else, but in the sense that I don't necessarily want to run with the usual crowd.

Here's why you have to ignore the rest of the pack.

The pack gossips about others and spends their days whining about what everyone else has that they don't have. The pack is petty. The pack is minding everyone else's business instead of their own. The pack is always looking for what's wrong, instead of what's right. They are more concerned with what they're going to get, instead of what they could give.

The pack has a victim mentality, a "blame-it-on-the-man" mentality; the pack takes no personal responsibility for what is happening in their lives. When there is drama, which the pack is usually responsible for creating, or at least perpetuating, they blame everyone and everything - except themselves.

Life is hard. Money is scarce. People are mean. Corporations are greedy. My spouse is lazy. My boss is a jerk.

The pack is in a continual state of blame.

If you want to become an alpha dog, you can't follow the pack.

Alpha dogs don't get bogged down in gossip and pettiness; they are too busy working to improve themselves. Alpha dogs take responsibility for every area of their lives. They are too busy minding themselves to spend time minding the business of others.

Alpha dogs continue on their journey, walking down their own path despite the "noise" that comes from others. While others "bark" about the lack of opportunities available, the alpha dog creates their own opportunity. While the pack waits for something to happen, the alpha dog makes things happen.

When I was walking around the house and the dogs were barking and jumping and trying to get my attention, I realized that if I stopped to pet them or give them a treat, it would only distract me from the task at hand.

So it is in life.

When I'm on a mission to get things done, to achieve my goals, or to realize my dreams, that's when the pack is the loudest. They bark about the hundred reasons why I won't be successful; they jump up and down about how hard change is, they try to distract me by pulling me back into the pack.

When you make a decision to do something bold, to go for your dreams, to accomplish your goals, do not let the pack distract you. Do not let people talk you out of doing what your heart desires. Stop playing small in life to appease the pack. Stop hiding your true self to gain acceptance. Become an alpha dog and ignore those that try to steer you away from what you really want in life.

Rise up alpha dogs; the world needs you. There are already plenty of others in the pack.