Ah, Saturday morning cartoons – nothing brought me more joy than a bowl of fruit loops and the antics of a super sly, super wise guy – Wile E. Coyote. While Warner Bros made Wile out to be a bumbling buffoon that got blown up … one thing was for sure … he always bounced back. It was no mistake that Chuck Jones chose such a scrawny Machiavellian to portray such remarkable resilience and stick-to-it-iv-ness…. Coyotes in nature are one of the most cunning and resilient animals in North America, yet according to American Indian folklore, he is also one of the most flawed and human of animal spirits.
Since the early 1900’s Coyotes have been greatly misunderstood and persecuted. To “control populations” hundreds of thousands are legally hunted, trapped and poisoned each year. Defying every effort to defeat it, the coyote has not just survived, but it has prevailed and can be found in every state from Maine to California.
So what makes this coy creature able to face multiple set backs, oppression and challenges, and yet still thrive? What lessons of personal resilience can we learn from this crafty creature?
Be an Opportunist: The key to the Coyotes survival and ability to live in any environment is Coyotes are opportunists, both as hunters and as scavengers. They eat any small animal they can capture, including mice, rats, gophers, mountain beavers, rabbits, and squirrels, also snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, birds, and carrion (animal carcasses). Grass, fruits, and berries are eaten during summer and fall. They have also been known to dine on grasshoppers and pine needles.
The lesson for us: A lot of people classify “opportunists” – particularly in business – as manipulative, and it brings with it many negative connotations. Even Merriam-Webster’s definition is uncomfortable: someone who tries to get an advantage or something valuable from a situation without thinking about what is fair or right. However, in the coyote’s case, he has found ways to be resourceful – to make gains when there would otherwise be none. When faced with lean times, we too must look at resources and opportunities that are available to us so we can add to our prosperity. In what ways can you utilize the resources that are readily available to you? What people can you call on to mentor you? What experience can you gain by participating or volunteering in community activities? How can you leverage yourself to be viewed as an expert and a leader in your field?
Be Adaptive and Flexible: In a news feature in Nature, “Rise of the coyote: The new top dog,” Sharon Levy describes the coyote’s success:
Researchers have long known the coyote as a master of adaptation, but studies over the past few years are now revealing how these unimposing relatives of wolves and dogs have managed to succeed where many other creatures have suffered. Coyotes have flourished in part by exploiting the changes that people have made to the environment, and their opportunism goes back thousands of years.
The lesson for us: Most people say being adaptable means being able to react to something, but really what it means for the natural business leader is being a critical, creative thinker who is an innovative problem solver and being confident. When faced with a challenge, rather than thinking about what you can’t do, think “What is possible?”
Be Persistent: Back to our friend Wile E. Coyote – no matter how many times he fell off the cliff, no matter how many times he blew himself – he never gave up. Anvil on the head? That didn’t stop him either. One thing I learned from Wile, if one method didn’t work, he would try another, and another, and another.
The lesson for us: As Albert Einstein once said “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work. Persistence is the number one element of resilience. However, do not confuse persistence with stubbornness. To become persistent, you need to identify your values, and what motivates you. For the coyote, he values survival of his pack, and he is motivated by hunger. What makes you hungry? Keep your values in front of you to keep you motivated.
Building strong, sustainable businesses starts with your own personal resilience. It means the difference between merely surviving and thriving.
If you want to learn more about building a resilient business that supports your lifestyle – contact me for a free consultation or to schedule your mapping session.
Until then, Hit the Heights!
Priscilla Hansen – The Natural Business Leadership Guide