It was Christmas time and I was in the North Pole with Santa and his executive team. We had been running a Multipliers training with the supervisors to help double their workforce for free. By leading like Multipliers they were able to multiply the intelligence of their teams and learn about how not to accidentally diminish that intelligence. I was also coaching Santa, Mrs. Claus and the exec on the Inside Out Paradigm. So, they could see at the busiest time of the year how they had all the intelligence they needed to make the right decisions despite complexity and ambiguity in front of them. Things were going well, it was an awesome bunch of leaders to work with.
That night when I was settling down in my log cabin there was a knock at the door. It was more like a thud to be honest. I was somewhat surprised, if not a bit frightened, to see a large polar bear in front of me. Even more when the polar bear spoke, as I had temporarily forgotten that the magic of Christmas was all around. “Hello Judith, hope it’s not too late to call, my name is Peter and I would like to talk to you if you have time.” Re composing myself I invited the polar bear into the living room. “How can I help”, I asked. Peter gave a big bear sigh and looked down to the wooden floor. “Well last year I set myself a goal of being the best polar bear I can be. So, I worked hard, looked at lots of other animals to see if they had better ways. I went to lots of trainings and read lots of self-development books, I especially liked Bear Intelligence(BI). I assessed myself with a 360, identified my shortcomings and set a development plan to change my behavior. The biggest behavior change was to stop growling and scaring people. But it’s so exhausting and often I can’t help myself and slip back to my old ways. I really wanted to be able to say I have achieved my goal so wondered if you could help?”
“Ok” I said with a curious tone. “I am not familiar with polar bears; can you tell me what are the characteristics of a great polar bear?” Peter went onto describe the characteristics: good instincts, a predator, sensory awareness, stealth, strength and stamina. I remarked what a good list it was. “So when do these great polar bears typically exhibit these characteristics?” Peter answered, “Well when they are being a polar bear I guess.” There was a long pause as I thought about my next question. “Peter do you like to hunt?” “Oh yes, I am rather good at it” Peter said. “Do you like to swim?” Peter smiled and laughed about how much fun he had chasing seals. And finally, I asked “When you are swimming and hunting what are you thinking about?” Peter replied, “well I am not thinking really just doing what comes naturally.” “mmm I said, I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein:
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
“It seems to me that you already are the best polar bear by just being a polar bear, it comes naturally it’s what you are designed for. I suggest you let go of the idea of becoming the best polar bear and just be one, growling and all.” Peter looked relieved, he felt a weight of self-improvement thinking lift off his mind. “Oh, thank you he said, that makes sense to me, I am a genius at being a polar bear so that is what I should be. OK I am off to be a polar bear. Merry Christmas!” and out of the door he went.
Polar bears are best at being polar bears, humans are the best at being human -find your human genius and be human to one another this Christmas. Merry Christmas!