Posts Tagged ‘The Story of the Lion and Gazelle’
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve…
…it doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
Heard that story a thousand times before? This story has been told over and over for decades to motivate teams, groups, organizations, divisions, and just about any group of people. The message is clear: no matter who you are – from the corporate executives to the mail room clerk – every day you have to run.
A couple of weeks ago I heard a few people talking about this story. People are amazingly creative. They took this story and remixed the meaning of it. Quite remarkable – at least to my way of thinking. But, perhaps typical – read on.
One of the people talking about the story of the Lion and Gazelle made an astute observation. The observation being that a gazelle really doesn’t have to run faster than the fastest lion as the story would have you believe - a gazelle only has to run faster than the slowest gazelle in the pack.
So, lets see what some of the implications would be to this type of thinking and reinterpretation of the traditional story of lions, gazelles, and running to survive.
First the story of the lion and the gazelle pits a gazelle against a lion. In the remix by the astute observer the gazelle is compared to other gazelles - not a lion. Gazelles are not competing against lions – they are competing against other gazelles. So, your aspiration as a gazelle is not to be faster than the fastest lion just faster than the slowest, most feeble, and lame member of the gazelle pack in which you run. Nice!
Second, good for lions. Gazelles in the remix interpretation of the story have reset their standards downward. Once our astute gazelle spreads the idea to other gazelles and gets their acceptance of this new interpretation their aspiration won’t be to be faster than the fastest lions just one click better than the most broke-down gazelle. With lower aspirations, and lower achievement of gazelles, Lions may just have an easier time taking down Gazelles in general.
And third – think about this – a sort of butterfly effect. With lower Gazelle standards lions might get lazy. Since gazelles only run as fast as the most broke-down gazelle not as fast as the fastest lion then their prey is less competitive. If the prey is less competitive then lions have less incentive to be at the top of their running game.
So, it starts with one gazelle who changes the game from running against the fastest lions to competing against the slowest gazelle in the pack. What is the net effect on the ecosystem of lions, gazelles, running, and the competition for survival?
America – The State of the Union 2011
On January 25,2011 President Obama gave the State of the Union Address. Here are a few excerpts…
Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They’re investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became the home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.
So, yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us. Remember — for all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. (Applause.) No workers — no workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We’re the home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any place on Earth…
The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.