Creative Leadership

Protecting Your Territory – Is it Worth It?

I’m speaking at the National Outreach Convention this week in San Diego.  Kathleen and I drove down from LA this afternoon, and stopped in San Clemente for lunch.  It was terrific – on the pier, overlooking the ocean.  While we were eating, I noticed 3 sea gulls who had stolen a piece of french bread from the next table.  As I watched, I learned a lot about succeeding in business, and in life.

Here’s the key: 

One of the sea gulls found the bread first, and the other two went for it pretty quick.  As a result, the first gull was focused on protecting her prize.  She was less interested in actually eating the bread and more interested in protecting it.

The problem is – while she was protecting it, the other two gulls were getting quick bites.  She would chase them off, but all they needed was a fast chomp on the piece of bread.

At the end of the battle, the other two gulls were full, but the actual owner of the bread hadn’t eaten a bite.

As I watched the battle played out, I realized that many of us spend way too much time protecting our turf, and much too little time actually making things happen.  It’s natural, so I understand the instinct.  But the problem is that is doesn’t work.

The take away?  Spend less time protecting your turf and spend more time actually being productive.  In the long run – you’ll have far more success.

Talk amongst yourselves….

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One Comment

  1. Taking your seagull metaphor a bit further. . .

    It’s easy for coastal residents to instantly spot tourists. Tourists are the ones standing around watching the seagulls and locals are the ones avoiding the seagulls.

    Locals know that no matter how fascinating to watch, you should never–never!–feed seagulls. One seagull with a piece of bread can quickly turn into 50 seagulls. They have some sort of magical communications system that alerts gulls from miles around to the presence of an unsuspecting tourist who doesn’t know any better than to feed the birds.

    The end result? A few birds fly off with a tasty morsel while the unsuspecting tourist gets crapped on by the rest of the flock. (Besides a magical communications system, seagulls have a magical digestive system).

    The takeaway? Be careful what you make happen. You just might get crapped on for your efforts.

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