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2009 July

A dramatic leadership lesson from the bird world

The other morning I was in the small park near my house with my dog. I was talking to a neighbor, when a loud cawing noise caught our attention. We looked out across the athletic field and saw a bald eagle flying straight toward us, trailed by 5 or 6 very cranky-sounding crows. Now, this is a park in the middle of South Seattle, not near water, not near any hills. Needless to say a bald eagle in our ‘hood was a surprise. What happened next nearly made us fall over.

As the eagle came toward us, it banked straight upward over our heads, closely followed by the crows, cawing madly. (There are two crow’s nests in this park and they’re already re-building for spring. Crow babies are an eagle snack favorite.)

As the eagle crested a big-leaf maple, it did a quick flip in the air and caught a crow in its talons, flipped back over and flew away. The crows got quiet fast, and disbursed quickly.

I thought about this amazing sight all day and shared it with several people. I found my storyline switching from one of sympathy for the crow to “if that crow hadn’t been trying to up the eagle’s…ahem…tail…it wouldn’t have gotten caught.”

So here’s the leadership lesson I took away:

If you’re chasing something bigger than you, make sure you’re ready for it. Do what you can to understand the nature of your target and get ready to be nimble if it starts to chase you back! And, if you’re feeling chased by worries, sometimes turning around and tackling one is the best approach.