One of my favorite places to visit is the zoo. Zoos fascinate me because we get to see all kinds of live animals that we would not get to see anywhere else. We see these animals on tv, we see these animals in movies, but to see them up close is incredible.
Since I was young I’ve always liked tigers. Maybe that is why I chose to go to Clemson, because they are home to the Clemson Tigers. There is something about the animal that just fascinates me. I love the size and strength of the creature, along with its beautiful striped body. Or, maybe I love them because they remind me a bit of the pets we have at home.
If you have ever been to Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the campus of LSU, just outside the football stadium they have a live tiger named Mike. How cool is that to have your own “zoo” outside the football stadium?
When I was looking at Mike it got me thinking about a lesson I learned from Trevor Reagan. The challenge in life to become a successful person takes work. It takes struggle. Life in the real world is not like a zoo where everything is taken care of for you. Where your environment is controlled, you are fed on a regular schedule, you have the perfect housing, and if you ever have a problem or you get sick you have a team of people to take care of you.
No life is not like this. Life does not have any guarantees. No handlers and a team of people watching over you.
Life is like the jungle. In the jungle we are forced to make our own way. Forced to hunt for our own food, forced to find our own place to sleep and be safe. The jungle is where the struggle is. But because of that struggle, the animal is stronger.
My thoughts turned back to Mike, the tiger in captivity. Could he actually survive in the jungle? Could he actually go out and struggle to survive or have we trained him to live in comfort and left on his own he would perish?
My question to you is, are you a zoo tiger or a jungle tiger? Have you been coddled and been given so much that you don’t know how to survive in the jungle?
As leaders we need to think about this analogy. We need to think about how we are treating our teams and if we are treating them like zoo tigers where we feed them everything and we don’t give them the opportunity to struggle and grow. Or are we the leader that pushes our team members to be a great jungle tiger. Pushing our team to figure things out themselves.
The struggle is a part of life. When we struggle we are pushed to grow. Struggling is the price of admission to live in the jungle we call business.
Next time you want to do something for your team or keep them from struggling, think about the tigers. Do you want to treat your team like a zoo tiger or a jungle tiger? Once you make that decision you will know how to be a great leader.
Until next…I’m Marty make every minute count.