In the book , Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life, author Phillip Simmons weaves an interpretive, heartfelt rendering of the simple idea that “life is a mystery” to be respected, feared, cherished and enjoyed, not a problem that needs to be solved. This concept has been a revelation to one, such as myself, that has spent years attempting to be in control, and stressed out because of it.
It is with this thought that I write this blog for the start of a new school year, about organizational leadership and the effects this concept of natural, spontaneous release of organizational leadership has on people of the 21st Century, at this time, and this place. We are in a crisis and a sincere void of of spontaneous, responsible leadership in our society. Just this week, a Republican Senatorial candidate from Missouri makes an ignorant, and pretentious remark about women that should shake, rattle, and roll all Americans. Regardless of who the appointed leaders are, we have yet to find true, charismatic leadership that can affect the direction of a society that is in distress, and direly in need of direction to solve the many problems that stress humanity.
Maybe the job is too great to expect just one person to complete the requirements of employment. Maybe we struggle because it would be impossible to find anyone with the qualifications to manage such an impossible task. Or, is it?
Living in Florida, I enjoy watching the flight patterns of peloquins over the ocean. As they fly in a straight line or in a quasi V-formation I am reminded of this concept of natural leadership in the Parable of Geese. As some people nervously await the start of another school year, and the country is anxious about another election, maybe we need to be reminded of this natural phenomena, once more.
Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of another.
Fact: 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.
Lesson: 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 out help to others.
Fact: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns going the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents, and resources.
Fact: The geese flying formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is 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: 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 with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.
Lesson: If we had as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
Fact: Geese fly South for the winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Lesson: It is a reminder to take a break from the cold of winter and take a vacation to some place warm & sunny to rejuvenate ourselves.
Fact: The larger flocks of geese usually inhabit areas where geese eating for humans is more popular or in demand, and where there are smaller flocks of geese flying, there is usually smaller demand for geese, to be used for human food. * This fact according to the Oklahoma State University Board of Regents study on geese.
Lesson: Larger flocks of humans together may not always be as effective as smaller flocks who are able to maneuver much more quickly in life and business without being eaten up by the competition...so to speak. ;-) (yes, this was a stretch, but relevant, no? :)
Lesson #2: The smart geese know to not fly with the big herds, and create their own niche flying circle or game.
The moral of all this is to remind people that leadership comes from within all of us. At times, it is necessary to rise to the top and be a leader for what matters most. So, may the flights of winged creatures inspire all of us to start a new school year with the strength and leadership that naturally exists in our community of staff members.