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Four-footed Leadership Lessons (or, what I learn from my cats)

Updated: May 8

Life lessons, leadership lessons, and people (or creature) lessons can present themselves in unexpected ways. Five and a half years ago, the author of this blog (who am I kidding? It’s me – Noelle. I am the entirety of Tri-Skill Consulting right now, so anything you see, read, or watch is me), I became a cat-mom.


I had always wanted pets, but my early career was restaurant-centric. My hours and travel were crazy, and I knew it wouldn’t be fair to whatever little fuzzy bodies shared my home. After living internationally for several years, I landed in California, and in my time there, I established a somewhat normal world of work and life. It was time. Living in an apartment and working long hours, I knew that I wasn’t ready for a dog (especially because the ones I want are probably taller and weigh more than I do), so I opted to rescue a pair of sister-kittens. I brought them home the day after Labor Day in 2018, and my life has not been the same since.


Before my girls – Jo (Josephine Kathryn) and Charlotte (Charlotte Frances) – my life didn’t feel empty. I enjoyed my work, I enjoyed my friends, and I loved my family across the thousands of miles we lived apart. After my girls, I noticed a different enthusiasm and awareness in my life. I wasn’t living alone any longer; I had two little creatures to engage with and talk to. And my God, they made me laugh.


Fast forward to the summer of 2022. Picture two adult women (me and my sister), standing in a rainstorm, trying to hold umbrellas, while also attempting to entice five teeny kittens to come out from in between two fences that they had wedged themselves into. They couldn’t have been more than four weeks old, abandoned by mama-cat, and hungry as hell. After calling every animal shelter in town and being told that it was kitten season and they were all full, we raised them in my sister's bathtub until they got big enough to escape. She adopted two, I adopted two, and our other sister took the feisty last one. Enter into my life . . . Charlie Dalton and Knox Overstreet.


I never intended on having four, and I am so, so, so glad that I do. They are wonderfully unique, and they each bring something special to my life with their beautiful little personalities. Jo is generally the most standoffish with others, but she looooooves for me to pet her. She craves attention and is not shy about letting me know when she wants it. Charlotte is my 17-pound lap kitty. She is queen of the house; this is her space, and everyone else is just living in it. Charlie is the mouth. He is a love bug, the epitome of a ‘curious cat,’ and he is vocal. A lot. Dawn and the sun is rising? He tells me. Breakfast time and I’m being slow? He tells me. He purrs and rubs on me while I’m getting his food ready, and he’ll cry from another room in the middle of the night to tell me that he’s discovered something that he wants me to see. Knox is the wild child. He gets the most zoomies, chases the others, wrestles with his brother, and then crashes into ridiculous sleeping positions. I love all of them and each of them so deeply that I don’t remember how I felt without them.


If you’ve read this long, you now know my babes. To get to the leadership lessons, these are but a few of the things I have learned from my little monsters:


  • Set boundaries. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not engage. It’s okay to find your own space when you don’t want to be around others.

  • Take care of yourself. Eat when you need to. Drink enough water. Bathe and groom regularly. Get enough exercise. Sleep.

  • Enjoy the moment. If you notice something beautiful out the window, watch it. If you see an opportunity, take it. Be present.

  • Ask for what you need. Advocate for yourself. Be vocal when you need to be in order to get things done.

  • Know that the box doesn’t define you. You don’t have to fit in the box. You can make the box work for you. If the box doesn’t work for you, destroy it.

  • Have fun. Play. Engage. Be silly. Get crazy. Chase what you want, and go. all. in.

  • Lead with love. Show affection. Ask for affection. Know that you are loved and love in return.


That’s it for now. As I’m writing, Knox is asleep in the cat tree, Charlie is investigating the warm clothes that just came out of the dryer, Charlotte is watching birds through the screen door, and Jo has retreated to a safe space.


I’m curious, so tell me . . . what have your fur babes taught you?

the author's four cats

1 Comment

May 08

I love this so much. So true!

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