I say this because last week a dog bit me. A big, aggressive Boxer showing me who was the Alpha dude.
Now I love big dogs — Golden Retrievers, Labs, German Shepards. I have a chocolate Lab of my own.
It wasn’t a brutal bite. The stitches in my fingers came out yesterday and I have only one more rabies shot to go.
But reading the encomiums to Steve Jobs, nearly all of them glowing, made me curious about dominance, since Jobs was clearly a Top Dog.
Was he just dominant, or was he aggressive too? What’s the difference, in dogs and people?
Dominance and Aggression Not the Same
According to trainers, dominance and aggression in dogs are not the same.
Dominance is a desire to run things. Aggression is the intent to establish dominance by inflicting hurt.
Dominance is permanent — a built-in personality trait. Aggression can be controlled.
In people, dominance is not necessarily bad. In fact, it’s a key characteristic of leaders.
A dominant dog can be a challenge to live with. He wants to make the decisions and may try to enforce them with his teeth.
Dominant leaders enforce their views in ways that are less physically dramatic but no less effective.
Dominant dogs try to be physically taller than you, which is why they jump on your chest.
Dominant leaders, like dominant dogs, are headstrong, demanding and stubborn.
Dominant dogs can be trained to become loyal companions. God help anyone who tries to “train” a dominant leader.
Jobs: Dominant or Aggressive?
People who worked for Jobs have told tales of his blistering attacks on people who fell short.
Yet according to people who knew him well, he could also be caring, funny and kind.
And age clearly mellowed him.
In his often-quoted Stanford commencement speech, Jobs said,
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
“Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
We’ve all known people – and had bosses — who, like Jobs, were both dominant and aggressive.
Both characteristics helped Jobs change the world.
What do you think about dominance and aggression? Is it fair to compare Steve Jobs’ behavior with the dog’s?
Share your comments below.