Yogi Berra, a Pack of Wolves and the Three Musketeers
(Re-visiting a 2015 newsletter)
I’ve been writing my newsletters since 2012. I find it interesting to go back in time to visit ideas and “teachable moments” from then and compare them to what I have shared more recently. Let’s take a look.
I think “Learning” can come from colorful characters, fictitious characters, and even the animal kingdom. Our challenge is to be open to the possibility to learn when teachable moments cross in front of our line of sight.
So let’s start with Yogi Berra, a famous baseball player, and Coach. I enjoy quoting his “Yogisms”. He is also known for colorful and seemingly nonsensical utterances….until they made sense. For example, “If you don’t know where you are going….you might end up someplace else.” As I internalize Yogi’s words I immediately think of business owners and business managers who run their businesses unaware of Yogi’s admonishment.
It is critical to have a vision in business. A plan is absolutely fundamental. Failure to have a destination in mind is akin to having a boat without a rudder. Owners and Managers need to be able to articulate where they are going and how they “plan” to get there.
To operate without a vision or plan would be like bowling and not being able to see the ball strike the pins because somebody had lowered a screen in front of the pins. You might hear the noise but would not be able to tell a strike from a gutter ball. How long would you bowl under those conditions? Not only would your conviction or commitment be tested with each ball you threw; but anyone who bowled with you would be subject to not giving their all with every throw…complacency. If you don’t have a “plan”, you don’t have expectations. If you have no expectations, there is no responsibility or accountability to change or improve to meet expectations. In the plant and animal kingdoms, if you don’t thrive you die.
And that leads us to Musketeers and Wolves. It was the Three Musketeers who boldly declared “All for One and One for All”. They “swashbuckling-ly” (try to say that 3 times) understood that it was hard to succeed alone. They were in it together…whatever “it” was. The really good Managers; the really good business leaders know that they can accomplish more with others than they might accomplish on their own. Managers are expected to get things done through those they supervise…more than they could accomplish on their own.
And that brings us to Wolves. What could a pack of wolves teach people? Well, those pesky wolves understand another foundational business reality: “The strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack”. Be assured that a Wolf Pack has a plan and objective to achieving and staying vital and sustainable. And, a Wolf understands that the Pack is more effective than the individual wolf when it comes to success in surviving when it comes to hunting when it comes to what can be hunted successfully. When a Pack is healthy and strong it is a formidable force. A Pack also understands each individual has talents and abilities. Every Pack has a mixture of leaders and followers, curious and not-so-curious members. The Pack understands that it is crucial to keep each member of the Pack healthy and strong in order for the Pack to do the job of the Pack community.
Moral: Well, it can be a bit blunt. Yogi and the Musketeers and the Wolves might say: 1) business leaders should not “fly by the seat of their pants”. You may think you are being agile and flexible; but as a business leader, you have a responsibility to have a destination or objective or direction in mind for the business you are responsible for, 2) The nomads in history largely became extinct because they wandered without a destination. People who are working for you and with you, deserve to have confidence that they are following a leader who has a destination in mind. If they are going to invest of themselves (even if they get a salary to do so) they want to believe it is in pursuit of a goal. Think about it.
I think it was Yogi who also said, “You can hear a lot just by listening.”