Already I’m learning that I will take many life lessons home from my experience as an Iditarod Trail Veterinarian. Finally recovered from jet-lag and determined to start this day productive as I woke at 430 to grab some hotel gym time and focus on the athlete in me before diving into the day of learning about a whole new aspect of veterinary medicine (through the array of meetings scheduled today). One of the thin books I packed for the trip made a perfect workout partner... Be the Lead Dog by Parrish and Schaefer. What could a Texas veterinarian learn from sled dogs?! Clearly many of the attributes to being “in the lead” apply to all aspects of life from running Animal ER to being a mom etc. “Focus“ was the subject of lesson 1 and how to truly be fully successful one must be ”all in”. So true. In my marathon of completing tasks to get here I had to clear enough time that I could fully focus here which makes all the difference. How many days and hours do I spend diverting attention and torn between responsibilities? And does that influence my ability to be the best ‘lead’ day to day? One benefit of stepping out of my comfort zone here in Alaska is stepping away from routine which allows a new focus. Here among an unfamiliar work place, in snow and aside the wilderness indeed, I’m feeling more focused as pressure builds for my field performance. I need to lead and represent Texas, my staff and lead the medical team I have joined here. Often our daily routines become comfortable and safe. I think each of us has a lot to learn about how and what we decide to focus on by reviewing this “all in” sled dog motto. I must be my own Lead Dog as no one can do my tasks or ..... accomplish my dreams and achieve my goals for me; and if they could, I would miss the valuable journey on my way to those completions. Why am I at the Iditarod far from my clients and hospital life... to find the “lead” in me that will serve as my guide towards new experiences, empowerment, move me away from comfort zones, and to experience what I can ‘become’. Can I be a better Lead Dog after this? I hope so!