I know last week I promised the second part of my story from my trip, the Chicago leg. Well my trip to and from Chicago was fairly uneventful. I had not been to Chicago, although I have been to Illinois in the past. I did get to see the lake, so that was interesting.
This week I had something a bit more rambling than a huge lake and a run through an airport. Some years ago there was a management theory that came into play for a short period of time. It was about being either a predator or prey. The thought was that your job made you one or the other, either you were a predator or you were prey, and each position had different challenges. If you were the predator, you had to prepare each day to outrun your prey; if you were the prey, you had to prepare to outrun the predators that chased you. I took this a bit deeper.
First, let’s set up a good example; the food chain in Africa is good and quite simple. The food chain is: grass, antelope, big cat. There is not a lot of variation there.
So back to the theory, with my tweaks. If you were the predator or cat, you didn’t have to outrun all the antelope; you only had to outrun the slowest antelope. Some days might be better than others. Now if you were the antelope, you didn’t really have to outrun the cats; you only had to outrun the slowest of your herd. I mean if you were a mediocre runner and pulled a hamstring, yet you were still faster than old Uncle Bob with the bad leg, then you were probably good for the day.
It is like the story of the two hikers that came upon a big grizzly bear. The first guy bends down and tightens his shoestrings. The second guy says; “Everyone knows you can’t outrun a bear.” The first guy responds, “I don’t have to outrun the bear; I just have to outrun you.”
Now you can probably apply the theory of cats and antelope to a lot of business situations. A lot of times, you will find that a small businessperson is more like the prey, he is having to stay ahead of the bigger predator. If you have read my column for very long time, you know that I would much prefer to shop at a small business; I like to keep my money in the state, local area or preferably the city. OK, no time for my ‘shop locally’ soapbox. A lot of larger companies become the predator in a way because they take something away and absorb the variety.
Back to the predator/prey thing. Being in a civilized area we just don’t see the unpolluted actions of the food chain like in the parks of Africa. We see a hybrid version where house cats or domestic dogs are introduced in the chain. That is not always a bad thing. One of the most hated “prey” animals would be the mouse (or rat, but I want to stick with the mouse for now). Now the mouse is regarded as a dirty and hated animal. The house cat plays an important part in this short food chain, and besides a kitty cat can be fun around the house, especially if you have a laser pointer. I wouldn’t want to be the “mouse” at all, they are hated by everyone one and seem to be food for almost any animal that is bigger. Even with a spokesperson, or spokes-mouse, like Mickey, the mouse is still despised. I mean the mouse is really kind of cute, they are furry and have cute little eyes and ears. However we believe they carry disease and are just something to be feared and hated. I have seen grown men jump out of the way of a tiny little mouse. There is an entire section of most stores dedicated to killing mice, all sorts of poison, sticky traps to catch them alive, a variety of traps that kills the rodents in a number of ways but mostly snapping their little fuzzy necks. We seem to go to extremes to rid our environments of these pesky critters. Here is the point where I bring up the fact that a lot of snakes (yes especially rattlesnakes) like to eat mice, actually that is a favorite food.
The poor mouse has to get up every day and figure a way to keep away from farmer’s wife. I am more of a stop and smell the roses kinda guy. I find that works well, although I wouldn’t suggest that if you have a lion on your tail.