The Owl's Perch

Hunting Like an Owl

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Another owl just flew into my life over the Thanksgiving break and I’m taking notice! In many native traditions and certainly in my life, owls appear at transitions and crossroads, beginnings and endings. This owl was a beautiful Mexican ceramic figurine – a gift from my girlfriend to celebrate our long-awaited trip to New Mexico together. There, the warm light, indigo skies and snow-capped mountains inspired conversations about our dreams to take uninhibited flight. The owl, now watching me from its new perch on my mantle, reminds me to consider the connection between visioning and listening.

Many owl species have ears that are asymmetrical – they aren’t placed evenly on the owl’s head like most mammals, including humans. A kind of triangulation allows the animal to pinpoint where a mouse is scratching its nose under two feet of snow from fifty yards away. Accuracy is further refined by the owls very large eyes being located in the middle of the facial disks, built specifically for creating a the perfect dynamic between sight and hearing that allows it to hunt with one of the highest success rates among all raptors. [Click HERE to watch this in action.] There is a poignant leadership lesson here: asymmetrical listening that is highly correlated with vision leads to success.

Asymmetry can be about varying proportions, different time horizons, conflicting points of view, etc. Fundamental to great business leadership is gathering information from multiple inputs like economic conditions, market trends, capacity utilization and workforce flexibility. Holding opposing views proves difficult for the leader for whom symmetry and harmony are desired. But I believe that the leadership of the future belongs to those who can, in greater degree, hold and work with paradox.

Alignment of vision within this context may seem impossible. But taking the owl’s cue, it appears paramount to success. If humans had eyes proportional to body size like an owl’s the pupil would be the size of a small saucer. We compensate for smaller eyes with a much larger brain that allows for greater cognitive abilities. So, it stands to reason that when vision is focused on what things could look like down the road or in the marketplace and all the asymmetrical inputs are considered, achievement of our goals should be more consistent.

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A Propitious Intersection

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Imagine arriving at the intersection of two streets – one called “Envision” and the other called “Cooperate” and something wonderful happens… suddenly you’re able to see around the corner and serendipity is a regular occurrence. It’s a rather magical junction! I’m learning more about two ways of traveling that help me get to this place, both of which are needed in just the right amounts.

ENVISION: This path requires some imagination of what things might look like in the future. It’s a dreamlike sequence that doesn’t need the confines of consensus reality – in fact the “that will never work” type thinking inhibits it. It’s a road filled with open-ended questions without succinct answers like, “if money weren’t a limiting factor, what do you want to be doing in 10 years?” Or, “what would the future look like if you were freely living your core values?” Often there is a voice within us named Reason, Practicality or even Skeptic that doesn’t let us enjoy a few moments of picturing what could be down the road. To travel this road is to appreciate what those voices have to offer… and agree to travel without them. Read More >

The Narratives that Drive Us

Sunday, October 05, 2014

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What is it about Inner Demons?

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The news of Robin William’s apparent suicide this week has many people expressing shock, sadness, compassion and an offer to be a listening ear for those who need help. What is it about inner demons that scream so loudly in our heads and all too often are invisible to those around us unless we reach out for help? Read More >

This One Wild and Precious Life

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Mary Oliver wrote a beautiful poem entitled, The Summer Day, which ends with this provocative question: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Those words haunted and taunted me deeply today as I every breath I took reminded me of this day 24 years ago. Read More >

The Unseen Costs of Being Reactive

Sunday, June 08, 2014

“The Leadership Circle” developed an assessment tool I use in my leadership development work that has helped guide thousands of leaders to a more effective style of leadership. The tool probes deeply how people act as leaders, and also uniquely surfaces why we do what we do. The why results are called our “Reactive” tendencies and fall into three categories: Complying, Protecting and Controlling. Read More >

The Importance of Reflection Time

Sunday, May 04, 2014

On Easter Sunday this year I decided to do something completely different. Having taught Sunday School for many years, I was pretty familiar with the biblical story both of Jesus' resurrection and Passover.  Read More >

Wholeness and Leadership

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Being raised in a home where unconditional love was taught and modeled (along with the humanness of not always doing it very well) I was exposed to a sense of wholeness from an early age. I was assured that my inner self wasn’t broken or in need of anything in order to be complete. There is profound beauty and abundance in this way of looking at life that gave me a leg up as I competed in sports and later went into business for myself. I learned not to measure my events or days just by the winnings or losses – my self-worth wasn’t at stake.  Read More >

Assuming Positive Intent

Sunday, March 02, 2014

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Forgiveness and Standing Up For Yourself

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Is it possible to stand up for yourself at the same time you forgive yourself? Some days this seems like an impossible task for me – the two behaviors often collide in the back of my mind as polar opposites. But I am compelled to find out how they must work together for progress and letting go of conflicts.

I’m finding that it takes equal parts of courage of compassion to look at my behavior objectively. Then, with a humble heart I can begin to own what is appropriate to own and forgive myself for my mistakes. For example, many years ago I had a falling out with my business partner and it took years to see what I could own in the downward spiral of our relationship because I felt so justified in my actions. It wasn’t until I was able to courageously take off the backpack of self-justification and own 100% of what I contributed – not 100% of the problem but 100% of my portion of it. Gratefully, years later this resulted in a reconciliation.
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