Lessons From Geese
Fact 1: As each goose flap its wings it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common sense of direction and community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.
Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, as with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skill, capabilities and unique arrangement of gifts, talents or resources.
Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the productivity is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.
Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it dies or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
"Lessons from Geese" was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organisational Development Network and is based on the work of Milton Olson.
Lessons from the Hare and the Tortoise Story
(with some retelling)
Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster.
They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race.
The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree and relax before continuing the race.
He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep.
The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ.
The hare woke up and realised that he'd lost the race.
The moral of the story is
Slow and steady wins the race.
This is the version of the story that we all are grown up with.
However the story continues....
The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realised that he'd lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him.
So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed.
This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.
The moral of the story?
Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. If you have two people in your organisation, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable person will consistently climb the organisational ladder faster than the slow, methodical one.
It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable.
But the story doesn't end here....
The tortoise did some thinking this time, and came to the conclusion that there's no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted.
He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route.
The hare agreed.
They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometres on the other side of the river.
The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.
The moral of the story?
First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.
In an organisation, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create opportunities to give presentations that enable the senior management to notice you.
If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research, make a report and send it upstairs.
Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancement.
The story still hasn't ended...
The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realised that the last race could have been run much better.
So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time.
They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank.
There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back.
On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they'd felt earlier.
The moral of the story?
It's good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly and someone else does well.
Teamwork is mainly about shared leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.
To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things:
- Never give up when faced with failure
- Fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady
- Work to your competencies
- Compete against the situation, not against a rival.
- Pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers
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