leadership lessons from geese

One of the best short Leadership story ever was written by Dr. Robert McNeish, a science teacher from Baltimore, Maryland in 1972 titled “Lessons from Geese”. Over the years from time to time I have referred to this invauable short text for deep inspiration.

“Lessons from Geese” exemplifies how teams can cooperate and collaborate, moving away from hierarchical top down command and control centralized authority. It is about everyone doing ther best and jumping in as leaders to carry the team forward creating extraordinary results in a short time.

We live in a world where open sourced collaborative efforts, peer to peer sharing, is creating a totally differnt way of operating, creating radical shifts in innovation and outcomes in a short span of time. Crowd sourcing is gaining momentum and the power of collaboration is driving the results. While top down hierarchy in large corporations is making such organizations look like dinosaurs, the story of “Lessons from Geese” flattens the ground for the nimble and agile to get in and create results much faster and better than their counterparts in hierarchical organizations. That is the power of collaborative leadership.

“Lessons from Geese” is still my favorite leadership analogy. It has been used as a study lesson by many leadership institutes, consultants, organizations, and corporations.

We all know how important leadership and teamwork are in today’s organizations. We can use the five principles presented in the “Lessons from Geese” story as inspiration to practice good leadership and teamwork skills as we all struggle to find ways to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources.


Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

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 one another.

Fact 2: 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 our help to others.

Fact 3: 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 doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.

Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement the production is much 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 5: 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 have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

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life is a creative process that leads to mastery

Everyone of us will go through a phase in our lives that we don’t really like to be at. That is the phase that will tell much about who we are and what we stand for. If we are focused on progressive forward movement, we know that we are passing thorough this phase, and it wont last, or we can pace through it unable to get out of it. It is a prison of our own making.

The Conditioned Awareness

This prison, the conditioned awarness, we operate in is a passage, a tunnel, a labyrinth through which we must arduously navigate out into the big expansive unconditioned universe away from anyone else’s thinking and ideals. We become or own master, our own hero, our own journeyman. Life is indeed a creative process that is incomprehensibly powerful as it unlocks the doors to heaven within.

This journey to actualization and realization to our greatness is not reserved for those who retire to the mountains and meditate for years on end to free themselves of the bondage of conditioned awaress, to be autonomous, to be a master. It is available to each and everyone of us. All we need is a commitment to ourselves first, to be aware, to be conscious, to know and understand and become wise, consistently each day.

You have to be as consistent as Milo of Croton, an ancient greek wrestler, who carried a new-born calf everyday until it was four years old. By repeating the routine everyday, he gained mastery over his physiology. Consistent practice can produce results beyond our wildest dreams as we attain mastery. Milo a champion wrestler, enjoyed a brilliant wrestling career and won many victories in the most important athletic festivals of ancient Greece. Besides wining the Olympic wrestling championships six times, he won numerous other competitions. His career as a wrestler spanned almost twenty four years. That is mastery!!

Passing through or pacing through life

Yes we are all passing through, even though some of us pace through, hoping for redemption from some externally generated blessing. To those I say, “rest assured there is none”. But for those who know that they are passing through, that life is a one way passage, we can choose to embark on this creative process that leads to mastery.

You will need to decide whether you are just passing through or pacing through life. When you are just passing through you make the best of what is there, serve to the maximum, learn a heck of a lot as quickly as possible, no matter how much you may dislike where you are at. When you do this you are propelled to the upper echelons of your progress rapidly. But if you whine and grind and begin to pace thorough life, you create your own endless suffering, stress and disempowerment. Disempowerment means getting stuck, with no progress, oscillating between conflicting priorities, lack of clarity and focus.

On the other hand, the light at the end of the tunnel is a vision, your purpose and what gives your inertia motion that turns into a momentum to begin the creative process of your life. This is the masters journey. Your life being a creative process that leads to mastery.

Our journey of greatness

Reminds me of Joseph Campell’s quote: The Hero’s journey.
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.” 

And the masters journey leads back to our own centre. The centre is where we are aware, freed up and masters of our universe.

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Goals For An Ostrich That Crossed The Road

If you are like me or most other people, there are times when you get really fed up of the same old. One day having had enough, you find a few moments in your busy schedule to sit down and pull up the nearest piece of paper and write out what you want to accomplish, goals you want to set and get the things done that you have been putting off for a long time.

Ostrich Goals

Within five minutes you have a list as long as an ostrich’s neck. And what does an ostrich do when it is overwhelmed? It buries its head in the sand. And that is exactly what we end up doing.

First like most of us, you are leading a very busy life, and on top of that you already have a long to do list. Now you have just added more stuff to your already overflowing life with even more stuff to achieve. Recipe for instant over whelm. The next day life goes on, business as usual.

Gung Ho Statistics

Statistics show that the more things there are on your to do list, the less likely you are to achieve them. That is the law of diminishing returns. The more gung ho you are and the longer your list, the less likelihood that there will be any execution.

There are two aspects to your life – either personal or professionally. One is working in your life and the other is working on your life (personally and professionally)

Working In Your Life vs. Working On Your Life

Working in your life is all about taking care of the everyday life, the nitty-gritty stuff that makes life function. Ensuring groceries are taken care of, your car is maintained, going to work, making lunches, preparing dinner, cleaning the dishes, getting the laundry done, spending time with the kids etc., and myriads of other things that makes life tick as flawlessly as possible.

Working on your life is the hardest as it is something you never were taught and very few role modes existed for you as you were growing up. Planning, strategizing, education and skill building, personal development goals all lie in the realm of working on your life that will impact and make a huge difference to what you are and who you become, which in the end effects the quality of your life for the long term.

The Execution Gap

There is a key component missing in the desire to create this outstanding quality of life and living it. It’s called the execution gap. The execution gap is one where you place things on your to do list yet fail to execute the goal!! Just have a look into the closets or your garage for abandoned things you set out to do, or the diet or exercise you meant to go on, or the project you wanted to take on to get ahead at work.

Look at your to do list – is this really what your life is all about? Probably it reflects myriads of things to do that keep you from planning and strategizing and designing your life the way it needs to turn out.

Perhaps you need to consider that your to do list really reflects your comfort zone and the manic busyness is an unconsciousness effort to keep you from designing your life beyond the glass ceiling. Fear of breakthroughs outside of the comfort zone can be scary indeed.

Disciplined Committed Action – Keys To The Kingdom

Begin to whittle down your to do list to the most important things you need to get done. Create an outcome-focused list and place on it the most important things to do and to achieve.

Don’t be an Ostrich with your head buried in the sand. Discipline, commitment, tenacity will get you to the other side of the road. Don’t overwhelm yourself with resolutions and long lists of goals. Pick one goal that will make an insanely huge difference and pursue it relentlessly, defying all odds.

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Don’t make a wish for the holidays

Don’t make a wish for the Holidays. Neither should you make a resolution for this New Year, 2012. This year focus on not making any wishes for the Holidays or any resolutions for the New Year. Banish those wishes and resolutions to the closet in the basement, and leave them there and throw the key away.

If you are just like me and most other people you probably have made wishes and resolutions in the past that have been discarded for “life as usual by default”. Cast back to last year. If you had made any resolutions or wishes for the New Year and the Holidays, well what happened. If you are like the majority of the population, statistics state that by January 20th most of it is forgotten.

Our resolve to live more healthy lifestyles, or to create financial well-being or to create better relationships (these are the top resolutions most of us make) got crushed by the busy life and attention to the daily grind, with the normal frustrations, stresses and the excessive striving to get things done just to make life work. To add insult to injury, it is a battering to our self-esteem as each year we get carried away by the frenzy of New Years Resolutions and the media hype and attention. Instead what we are doing each year is that we have trained ourselves to not attain our deepest dreams, desires and aspirations!!

Obviously resolutions don’t really work out the way we intended them to. Resolutions and wishes have no driving thrust or assertion to move anything. There is no leverage, no clarity and focus, let alone a plan with a system and processes to attain those dreams. And that is why Holiday wishes and New Years resolutions are doomed to fail.

Change does not happen overnight. One life long habit isn’t going to change instantly. And we live in a society where we have been trained to expect instant gratification. For lasting change, we have to work on small incremental changes, and have a system of keeping track of the incremental changes.

Don’t let your dreams, desires and aspirations be crushed in the heated moment of frivolous resolutions. Don’t keep on training your brain to fail, as it has in prior years.

Instead this year convert your wishes and resolutions into attainable goals. Let’s reframe this. Wishes, resolutions, dreams, desires and aspirations can be converted into goals by a systemic approach. Goals are written, planned, prioritized, scheduled and implemented by an actionable plan that has clarity of purpose and a laser beam focus. Goals are time sensitive, very specific, and broken into small steps that make them manageable and attainable.

So this coming year instead of making wishes and resolutions, as you finish the last sip of that champagne, try to focus your energies and self-esteem on attaining at least one major personal development goal that will make a an insanely huge difference in your life.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays, Talk soon

PS: Please share this blog post with your friends. Spread the Holidays cheer and tell them how much you enjoyed this blog – use the Facebook like button and Twitter share below.

PPS: I have a few short content-packed videos and cheat sheets with action guides on how to make 2012 an extraordinary year. I will share those with you very soon. If you haven’t’ already done so, sign up for the free videos here: http://www.brahmmemone.com/free

NOTE: If you want some specific content that will help you in the coming year, leave your comments below.

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Nobody is getting out alive

There has been so much speculation about Steve Job’s decision to postpone his surgery for nine months.

We are so afraid of our own mortality that we project our hindsight observations onto others. What if he had surgery as soon as it was discovered? Was Steve Jobs really smart after all? Why do geniuses commit stupid mistakes?

These questions plague and puzzle us endlessly. Yet everyday we are faced with our own decisions and choices. Do I take this job? Do I go for this promotion? Shall I move industries? What shall I do to get foothold in this department?

Years later some of us live and learn, some of us look back with contempt at some of our choices and some of us laugh all the way to the bank!! Should the people have bought homes in the subprime meltdown environment? Hindsight is always correct, but there is no time machine, back to the future. Anyone have a Delorean?

According to an article in the New York Times today this is what Dr. Dean Ornish had to say “Steve was a very thoughtful person. In deciding whether or not to have major surgery, and when, he spent a few months consulting with a number of physicians and scientists worldwide as well as his team of superb physicians. It was his decision to do this.
This type of surgery is a big deal and not to be taken lightly. He had surgery when he decided it was what he wanted to do. Nobody could have been more thoughtful and intelligent about how he went about this.”
In any case, Steve Jobs made his decision and chose to have surgery when he was satisfied with the answers he was looking for. Just as you and I make myriads of decisions and choices everyday of our life, until one day it’s our time.

So my point is let’s leave this debate about whether Steve Jobs was smart or not, and why he did what he did. Let’s just leave it at he made his decisions and choices and that is that. After all no one is getting out alive, and we just have to live and die by our decisions and choices. Smart or not, just be empowered by what you chose to do and go confidently ahead instead of living in the fear of your own mortality.

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The interconnectedness of life with its exquisite intricate and complex interdependencies are not visible to the naked mind. There are myriads of intrinsic links between all elements of creation, creating an ecological existence of who we are. There is no “I, me mine”, there is only a singular “We”.



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Crying Over Spilled Milk

Spilled Milk
(Image by:Danilo Rizzuti)

I did a boo-boo this morning. The milk jug seemed to get a life of its own and decided to bungee jump out of the fridge onto the kitchen floor. What a mess!! Needless to say I didn’t have my cereal. Instead I had twelve-grain bread with a cashew butter spread.

The incident made me wonder about the old saying “There is no sense in crying over spilt milk. Why bewail what is done and cannot be recalled?” ~ Sophocles.

Too often we are run by our defense mechanisms from what happened in the past, as we try and avoid future failures. Sometimes we even give up our goals, and too often reminisce ourselves into a “What if . . .” scenarios that aren’t helpful. Dwelling on past alternatives and harbouring regrets is a huge draw back to progress. We think we have memory, but memory has us. Getting stuck, with wheels spinning full out, reminds me of the vehicles stuck in the last winter snow storms, going fast nowhere, skidding and sliding across the roads into other vehicles, uncontrollably. It helps to know how to handle a vehicle in such conditions.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, but that is a good thing for progress. We need to be accountable for what happened, what caused the failure in the first place and the remedial action forward, rather than abandon important goals.

Instead of value judging the event and blaming others for failure, best practice dictates that it is a matter of accountability, assessment and responsibility to make the necessary adjustments however small to change future outcomes.

Building a muscle for being reboundable and flexible rather than being attached to a set of processes and procedure for doing something is of utmost importance. Edison discovered ten thousand ways to unfail before the light bulb became a reality. When something isn’t working, change the process and procedure rather than give up. Winners never quit and quitters never win.

So how’s this year going so far you? Almost five months down already and we are in May. Did you make New Years resolutions (yes almost five months ago!!) and then gave up as usual? Did you change your resolution into a goal and stick with the plan?

Rather than crying over the spilled milk, dwelling and regretting your past, let go and adjust. There is nothing we can do to change the past, but we can always take remedial action to change the future. And the best time to do that is in the present. As you progress forward, look out ahead of you and not in the rear view mirror, otherwise you will have another fail. The rear view mirror is meant for a minute glance when making adjustments, and that is all it is there for. A quick glance into the past is sufficient to merely to build from it.

“The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.” ~ Wendell Berry

I think I’ll go and get another carton of milk now. Have an awesome day.

Please add your comments below and share.
Join me on Twitter @BrahmMemone

PS: I included a compilations of fail video from YouTube if you have a few minutes



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quote of day

“We each make up the whole – Life has taught me through my experiences that we’re just one piece of something much larger than our own lives. While one persons role might be owning a business, while another’s might be that of homemaker we must keep in mind that neither role (in the big scheme of life) is more prestigious or important than the other. Each serves its own purpose.” ~ Brahm Memone

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Mothers Day

To: The World’s Best Mom

Mom is one who gives you the gift of life,
She holds you close and nurtures you the most,
Protects you and teaches you,
Always believing in you the most.

She is always there for you,
Listens to you and understands what you want,
She is the one that will ride the school bus with you,
And be one of you as the Science Girls,
She will kiss away your boo-boos,
and always have hot dinners ready after school,
And once in a while maybe even a note in the lunch box
That says “Honey I love you”
And sometimes the note says “Don’t worry, the day will turn out OK”
Her hugs are the best in the world,
And that is where you feel the safest.

And when they leave the hive,
She worries the most,
Will they be alright or will they face strife
She waits for the call,
She waits for them to come back home,
At Thanks giving and at Christmas,
And when they do, she is the happiest Mom of all,
For the gift of life has returned back home.
To the Best Mom in the world
Her work never complete,
Proud as can be,
Her job, always well done.



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There is no destination

Desires, dreams, aspirations, goals, achievements, success? What do they all mean? Why are you here and why do you do what you do, are eternal questions that have been asked for ever and ever, followed by some clichéd explanations that do not help relieve the existential angst.

Time to shift the chaff off the beliefs and thoughts that have been so mixed up in the past few hundred years or so with pop psychology, spirituality, new age, traditional religion, social and economic structures into a melting pot that has created more confusion than light up the path.

Motivational books and goal setting will have you believe that you need to get to a somewhere destination. Or some spiritual teachings will tell you to take the plunge into your depths and grasp that elusive pearl – again a destination. Misleading often asked statements such as “when you arrive at the destination, what condition are you going to arrive at” or “see you at the top” or “when you become a success” or “become a success with these habits” are all destination focused. Statements that are destination focused do not help us change anything, because there are no possibilities of creativity and competency leading to a path of mastery. As we know mastery does not exist. Those masters and sages in art or spirituality will always tell us that it is a path we walk on. The samurai culture tell us how each individual practices everyday what s/he is good at, the practice never stopping, for mastery is never attained.

An artist will always look for the next creative expression and never be satisfied with his work. The tennis player or golfer will always be practicing for that next move or swing to master. A photographer will always be looking for that next angle, ambitious to master his art. This drive to become a master at your creative pursuit be at work or at play is an endless path, that has no end. It is an innate psychological need for our well-being to pursue competency to the nth degree. Authors who think they have done their best work will soon disappear into oblivion.

Most people who retire and have no plans for walking up a path of mastery quickly degenerate. Either we are developing or dying. Pursuit of mastery in life whatever phase you are in is honoring the innate need for well-being.

So what are your desires, dreams, aspirations, goals, achievements, and success? Work on them as a destination and you will fail. Work on them as a path of the master learning competency and creativity. Beware of clichéd statements of “getting there”, for there is nowhere to get to. Goals are merely a measure of score you keep along the path of mastery and are not an end unto themselves. The masters path is a long-term strategic journey rather than short-term “getting there” destination goals.



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