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Trusting the Sharp Right

Trusting the Sharp Right

Yesterday we were driving along a tree-enshrouded lane we often use to avoid the larger roads. Suddenly, out of the canopy of branches, a huge bird dropped down and flew at eye-level in front of us.

I was doing 30 MPH and was not catching up. I realized at last that it was a huge hawk, and the hawk was steadily descending. Finally, about 50 yards away, it reached down for a squirrel which had just run onto the road from a lawn. The rodent took a sharp right, ran up a stone wall and, with the hawk having lost a few seconds making a tight turn and now inches away, jumped into a thick tangle of trees and bushes.

The hawk pulled up, unable to fly with a four-foot wingspan into two feet of clearing, and returned to its air patrol. This clever squirrel, I would guess, is going to convey the genes of escape down to generations of smart creatures. When you’re successfully dodging dogs, raccoons, foxes, and hawks, you’re making the most of what you’ve got. My wife was overjoyed with the outcome.

On the way to workout this morning, my wife yelled for me to stop halfway around the driveway curve where we encountered four deer about ten yards away in the woods. They stopped to stare back, despite our presence and a very loud engine. They knew that they could escape in an instant, and they soon went back to nibbling on everything in site. They were still there as we moved on.

Animals are instinctual and cognizant of their surroundings. That hawk knew that it could fly down the street but couldn’t make it through the trees at high speed. The squirrel knew that it had to get into cover and that a hard right turn would gain it a second of life-giving grace. The deer knew they were in no danger. (The “advance of civilization” which everyone has bemoaned in terms of removing native areas has actually pushed animals into a closer proximity where they can be successful and enjoyed in the wild. No one, for example, can hunt anywhere around here, and the wetlands running all over the place has put a stop to further development. I had to pause a few days ago to allow 19 wild turkeys to cross the road in a stubborn single file, unconcerned about the six cars keeping watch.)

You can’t “reason” through a pursuit or escape, and you can’t “reason” through a sales call or presentation. You have to trust your talent, your instincts, and your natural behaviors. The squirrels, the hawks, the wild turkeys and the deer have been around a long time, and they’ve adjusted well to circumstances. And don’t even get me started on sea gulls.

A couple of years ago a guy in a car ahead of me did an abysmally stupid thing and I immediately swerved and put my car up on the center median, on the grass. No one was hurt, and there was no damage, but there was absolutely no other place I could have gone without being in a major accident. I trusted my instincts. If I had reasoned for even a second, I may not have been able to write about it later.

Sometimes you just have to trust yourself. Ironically, too many people would rather trust others.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 1

  • Erika Lyremark Ellis

    April 10, 2008

    Reading this had me thinking about the word “reason” and the word “reasonable.” I am no etymologist, but I am pretty sure the two words are from the same family. Sometimes being reasonable is appropriate, but I think most times people are reasonable – including myself – when we are afraid of failing. So if the squirrel had thought to be reasonable it would have died. Instead the squirrel was relentless. Let’s be relentless rather than reasonable! That is my motto for today!

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