The Grumpy Bear and the Sly Fox – Repost

bearfoxI receive a request to repost my bear and fox story, so here it is!

Not so very long ago, in a forest close by, lived a grumpy bear and a sly fox.

The grumpy bear was known to roar loudly when a gentle growl would have been more appropriate.   The grumpy bear was not comfortable at expressing any kind of emotion.   When the grumpy bear felt uncertain, he became even grumpier.  But underneath that grumpy, growly exterior was a big heart filled with love and good intention.

The sly fox on the other hand, was a smooth communicator.  He spoke softly and gently.  His words were chosen with care and always reflected exactly what his listener wanted to hear.  He never growled or challenged anyone and so many animals in the forest eagerly listened to whatever the sly fox had to say.

The sly fox used the grumpy bear’s gruffness and roughness against him.  The sly fox liked nothing better than to poke the fire and fan the flames of dissension.  He would say things like “If the grumpy bear cared about you, he would do this. That’s what I would do” or “The grumpy bear doesn’t understand you like I do”.  Sometimes the sly fox knew things that would help the grumpy bear, but instead of sharing information or offering to help the grumpy bear, the sly fox would go to others in the forest and say “Why isn’t the grumpy bear doing this?”

Of course, the sly fox never actually did anything to help anyone in the forest.  He left the hard work for the grumpy bear. The sly fox whispered, using his smooth, gentle words to turn the other animals against the grumpy bear, making the grumpy bear’s job even harder.   Then the sly fox would grin, rub his paws and skulk away … until the next time.

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A lot of us have a grumpy bear or a sly fox in our lives.  We meet them at work, at play and sometimes at home.  The grumpy bear doesn’t realize how words and actions can be misconstrued when others perceptions and emotions are not taken into consideration. Sometimes the grumpy bear speaks poorly from a place of sincerity and positive intention.

The sly fox knows exactly what the other person wants to hear. He or she looks for and feed on insecurities, fears and weaknesses. The sly fox speaks and acts well from a place of deception and negative intention.

With experience comes wisdom and I have learned to look past the exterior to find the intention.  Some people grouse and grumble, then buckle down and act. Others sound positive and supportive,but in reality are only looking to stir the pot. They ditch and run as soon as their real objective, dissension, has been achieved.

Give me grumpy and sincere over smooth and sneaky any day.

Looking at the World Through the Eyes of Robin Williams

Robin Williams was an incredible talent and will be missed.  Perhaps it’s a little weird that when I learned he had died, Sesame Street popped to mind.

Almost two years ago, I shared a Sesame Street clip with Robin Williams and the two-headed monster talking about conflict.  (Find it here.) Recently, I discovered a different Sesame Street clip (an old one!) with Robin Williams and Elmo.  Watch at all the different uses Robin William came up with for a stick.

Very often, we get stuck on one right answer, one right way of doing things or or one way of seeing the world.  What exciting changes could we bring to the world around us if we all opened our mind up a whole world of possibilities?

R.I.P.  You left a legacy and will be missed.

Labels: Great for bins; not so great for people

Labels let us know where the pens, paper or staples are in the supply room.  Labels save time.  Labels mean we don’t need to look in the bin, box or the jar.   Labels allow us to quickly scan and reject until we find the right label.  The label tells us everything we need to know.

That’s a great concept if the goal is to take a messy, unorganized desk or closet and turn it into a Martha Stewart approved oasis of calm organization.

Labels don’t work so well with people.

Slapping labels on customer or co-workers, based on external appearance or behaviours, does help us categorize them and our response to them.  Unfortunately, the problem with labelling people is we so very often get them wrong.

When we label the loud, angry man as aggressive and obnoxious, we don’t acknowledge the possibility that he may have just had a horrible, terrible day and that he’s reached the end of his rope. We resort to managing the label instead of seeing the person.

When we label young people as impatient and ‘wet behind the ears’, we don’t acknowledge their desire to help make positive change a reality.

When we label old people as stubborn and set in their ways, we lose the opportunity to learn from their experience.

When accountants become ‘number crunchers’ and sales professionals become ‘paid to golf’, the ability to connect and work together becomes exceedingly difficult.

When we label someone as strong and independent, we may assume they don’t need the same level of support as others.  We may miss the signs that show they are struggling and need some help.

Labeling employee as lazy or unmotivated takes away our responsibility to create a positive work environment, built on respect and recognition for their contribution.

Labeling managers or owners as demanding and uncaring takes away our responsibility to bring our A-game to work.

The one benefit to an unlabeled, unorganized closet is the sense of joy and satisfaction when a previously unknown or lost item is found.  I believe the same possibility holds true when we chose to rip our labels off the people we interact with every day.

Ripping off the labels will make our life a little more chaotic and a little messier.  It means the easy answer or the neat solution may no longer work.  But I imagine that amongst the chaos, we may discover a treasure trove of undiscovered knowledge, possibilities and opportunities.

What do you think?

 

A Lesson from The Voice

Today, a friend shared a clip from Italy’s ‘The Voice’ where a nun absolutely rocks the crowd with her version of Alicia Keys “No One.”   She nails it and the look on the judges faces when they turned around and realized this amazing voice and talent was coming from a young woman in a habit, instead of sexy clothing was priceless.

What I like about The Voice is that the judges can’t see the contestant. They base their decision on the voice alone, not the package it is wrapped up in.

A friend said recently “Life gives you what you need when you need it” and strange as it may seem, this video clip is exactly what I needed right now. To me it was a reminder that we are all more than we seem on the outside. We are so much more than our actions, our appearance, our past or our present.

Someone near and dear has made some poor life decisions lately. Those decisions are not the full sum of who he is or who he can be. There are some people who will not be able to see past his protective barriers or his negative behaviours.  They won’t see the potential, the talent or the possibility for a better future.

Sometimes the appearance or behaviour of others is not negative or off-putting.  Sometimes people get lost or missed because they have perfected the art of hiding in public. We glance over them but we don’t really see them.

Chances are there are talents, skills, possibilities and opportunities hiding in plain view where you work, where you go to school, where you socialize or where you worship.  They are hiding behind insecure, perhaps sometimes inappropriate behaviour, odd or unique clothing choices.  They could be hiding behind seemingly successful people who are not pursuing a talent or passion because it doesn’t fit the plan someone else laid out for them.

It is Friday. The end of an interesting week.  The video is below. Enjoy it.  Then I encourage you to make a special effort to look for talents and possibilities you may have overlooked in the past because the person didn’t look or sound quite right.

When hidden talents and possibilities are uncovered, our world becomes a better place.

Note: The video is in Italian, but you can translate using the cc tab.