We learn by doing and taking prudent risks is part of the growth process. At an early age we learn that an action may be perceived by some as courageous, while others consider it to be irresponsible or unintelligent. Fear of making mistakes or being judged by others can hold us back. So often we need to be undeterred by approval or disapproval. Let me give you an example:
From the treadmill at gym I look out at beautiful green hills and plantations in the distance. Nearby is a gully about 3 metres deep and the same width lined with rocks. This has become the playground for a litter of three kittens and they have a wonderful time hunting lizards and other appropriate creatures that live amongst the rocks.
Last Sunday I noticed that they are now half-grown, possibly at the same stage as human teenagers. Two played together in the gully while the third was more interested in what was happening ‘beyond’. He was curious. Pulling himself up and peering from the gully, he spotted a lone ‘Ha-di-da’ (Ibis) pecking at insets or worms on the flat area of low grass. This is unusual as these huge birds with a beautiful purple sheen are usually found in pairs or large groups.
The cat, overcome by his urge to hunt and oblivious to the fact that the bird was more than double his size, began to stalk his prey. As I am unsure of whether our cat was a ‘him’ or a ‘her’ I shall continue to use the masculine gender.
His two siblings, curious, pulled themselves up and peered out the gully. They took one look at their brother – and decided that their own hunting was far more fun and continued with their games amongst the rocks, chasing prey of a more appropriate size.;
‘Courageous Cat’ as I have decided to name him, crouched down, watching the bird. Slowly he drew closer and closer and at the well-chosen moment attacked his prey, catching him unawares. With a raucous ‘haw’ typical of the ‘ha-di-da’, the prey lifted two metres off the ground, spanning his large wings. Our cat had attached his teeth to a few feathers and was momentarily lifted into the air but couldn’t hold his grip and went somersaulting to the ground. As he landed he dashed for shelter under a nearby deserted supermarket trolley. The bird on the other hand seemed unconcerned by the minor annoyance of the cat and immediately continued pecking at the grass, systematically searching for his food.
I watched, absorbed in the unfolding drama. After a few minutes the cat, undeterred by his dangerous encounter, began to gain courage and could no longer resist the temptation to again stalk his prey. Closer and closer he crept, stopping and crouching low each time the bird turned around. To me as the observer, this was an unnecessary precaution as the dry winter grass was so low that the bird could easily see the approaching cat even when he was trying to ‘lie low’.
I waited eagerly for the next installment. However, the bird, either pretending not to notice the cat, or purposely wanting to annoy him, decided to fly away presumably to return to his flock. The game was sadly over. However, for me this was not the end of the story as there were many insights and this scenario raises many interesting questions:
- Would you refer to the cat as ‘courageous’ – or ‘delinquent’?
- Does this adventure show that he is a ‘slow learner’ or that he has great determination? And what does it say about the bird?
- How prudent were the risks he was taking?
- What made the one cat want to go hunting this ridiculously large bird while his siblings stuck together, playing safely in the gully, presumably looking for the odd lizard? They were doing what could be considered more appropriate for juvenile cats. They were safer. What characteristics of his were different from the other two?
- What part did relationships play in their being disinterested? The two in the gully were obviously ‘close’ – and he was the outsider in that group. So did he need to invent his own games?
- What part does ‘not knowing’ play in this story? He obviously didn’t know that the bird was far too large for him to kill. So he instinctively went for ‘the kill’. He was prepared to take risks. The other two might have realised it was impossible.
- I like to define an entrepreneur as ‘some-one who finds value where others haven’t yet found value’. So, as our ‘hero’ (or you may prefer to think of him as our ‘fraudulent feline’) matures, how much better chance does he have of succeeding as an entrepreneur? ;
- By the time this cat grows up, how much more real life practice will he have experienced than his siblings? So how much more capable will he be when he does mature?
- How can this metaphor be applied in our lives?
- Which cat would you employ? Please give your reasons.
Yes, there are many different perspectives to ponder. I still think the hunter was a brave little guy who found this large bird irresistible. What do you think?
For more information on ‘Executive coaching’ or ‘Keynote speaking’ please contact Brenda on email@example.com or +27 82 4993311.
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