Sunday, 29 January 2012

Learning from Looking and Watching

We live on a river in northern New Mexico. In the winter, the river is populated with a variety of ducks swimming up and downstream, lots of Canada geese who swim, fly and honk their way along the river and some beavers who are my nemesis.  I am learning from all of them.
I watch the ducks, buffleheads, common goldeneyes and others as they swim, either alone or in small flocks, sometimes diving and feeding, other times riding the current downstream along the far edge and I wonder how many of their daylight hours are spent just looking for food.  Sometimes they seem to be just playing and enjoying the diving and splashing, just for the fun of it.   I used to think the phrase "free as a bird" wasn't very accurate because birds seemed busy all the time, either feeding, nesting, caring for their young or avoiding predators such as our stalking cats.  Even the hawks and eagles must soar on occasion, just for the sheer joy of catching those updrafts, without any thought of needing food.  I should probably play more often, either alone or with others.

The geese are usually in large flocks and in those famous V-formations, resting on the river before flying to various adjacent fields in order to eat, mostly a vegetarian diet of grasses and grains.  They also seem to spend a lot of the nights on the water, safe from most of their land bound predators.  I hear them talking to each other in muted tones, probably going over the day's events and making plans for tomorrow.   No, that's my projection of what I do each evening, reviewing the day past, preparing for the one ahead.  The geese often swim silently upstream along the inner edge of the river and when the river is low, they are out of sight, hidden by the bank, although occasionally they will risk a stroll onto the land, only to be chased off by one of our dogs.  The lesson learned from the geese is the transfer of leadership of the flock as the one out front drops back and lets the next one in line move forward.

I am learning slowly to co-exist with the beavers, allowing them to take their share, more than they deserve I think, of trees and shrubs to build their huts.  They are the largest rodent in North America and like most rodents, we humans find them to be undesirable and destructive pests although in the eco-system of ponds and rivers, I suppose they serve a purpose.  It's an uneasy truce for now as I have all but given up trying to protect all of my trees from their need to feed and build.  They have taken innumerable trees, some of which I don't mind and lots of willow which is denuding the bank along the river.  Enough will be enough at some point and I will need to figure out another strategy for deterrence.   It's a game of sorts and at this point the beavers are clearly ahead.  I will be back in the game come Spring.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

Whether this was a bumper sticker or just intended as a catchy slogan, the message is fairly clear.  First of all, it does not ask a question.  It's in the imperative voice and asks for a choice or a response.  You may or may not choose to lead.  You may or may not choose to follow the leader.  If you wish to be neither a leader nor follower then the message is get out of the way of those who have made a choice and know what they are doing.  They have declared their conscious and intentional role and they are committed to a particular set of actions.  Whether or not they are effective in those roles may be assessed by others according to whatever tools and measurements will be most informative and productive. 

Conscious and intentional choosing and not merely responding to what is presented can shift ones energy and help to focus on that which will be more in alignment with ones goals and desired outcomes.  There are times when it is necessary or incumbent upon us to respond and in so doing make sure that we are being pro-active and not just reactive.   More conscious choosing!

If you are trying to influence another person or a group, then it is imperative that you understand what is required of you as a leader to appreciate the view, the position, and the needs of the other person or group.  If you are a follower, then it is imperative that you are able to be in some kind of dialogue with the leader to have clear expectations that are mutually agreeable and acceptable, knowing that there can and probably will be times of conflict and disagreement.  But that is merely part of the process and not to be avoided.  Disagreement, if respectful and open, can be very productive.

Lead, follow or get out of the way sounds like a plan of action and if you are unsure, uncommitted, uninterested and uninvolved, that too may be your choice but let at least be semi-conscious!