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If We Could Only Be As Smart as Geese

I was fortunate enough to be a member of the University of Notre Dame Varsity Football Team many years ago.  It was a true privilege to be able to play for legendary Coach, Lou Holtz.

Football is the ultimate team sport, 11 players for each team on a field that is 120 yards long (10 yds for each end zone) and 53 1/3 yards wide.

The permutations and combinations of where players can go and what players can do are endless. 

Successful teams are the ones where the players work together for a common goal.

Coach Holtz is known as a great leader and motivator, and each day he would give a speech to the team before practice about the importance of playing together, trying your best, etc.

One day, he gave a speech about geese, how they fly in a V to limit drag and when the leader at the point of the V gets tired, they fall back and the next geese steps up, taking its place. 

They repeat this pattern indefinitely.

Coach Holtz ended the speech, “if we could only be as smart as geese”.

Today on the drive into work, I was reminded of this speech from Coach Holtz many years ago.

I was waiting on the road for the gaggle of geese to cross safely and noticed that the largest of the geese was in the center of the road directing traffic. 

He was calling out to the geese on both sides, trying to get them to move along as he noticed my car in the roadway.

This large goose did an excellent job of leading the other geese, and although it took a few minutes, I was quite impressed at how the gaggle moved along in the direction that was set by their leader.

Then out of the blue came a blue screaming pick-up truck that blazed through the gaggle, with his own version of a honk.

Not the honk that these geese were accustomed to.

It’s impossible to entirely project what went through the mind of the driver of this truck.

Maybe they had a child dying in their lap, and they were on their way to the hospital, or perhaps it was some other type of emergency even though the hospital is a few miles down the road, in the exact opposite direction.

It’s also possible that the driver of this truck, just did not want to be bothered by waiting in line for the geese to cross the road.

You be the judge.

Each of us does have a choice in terms of what kind of teammate we want to be in society, and in business.

I’m sticking with the words from Coach Holtz, and I’m going to keep trying to be as smart as geese.

Jim Guerrera

Author Info

Jim Guerrera

Jim Guerrera, Managing Director, founded SCN in 2000. As a leader of SCN, Jim assumes responsibility for the hiring and development of company employees, strategic planning, culture leadership, core value leadership, marketing, operations, and bus...

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