Labor Day included a visit to the Nashville Zoo with my three grandsons: Big Guy Buddy (7), Cool Guy Buddy (6), and Little Buddy (2). We started in the Jungle Gym and finished hours later with the alligators (who had enough sense to either sleep or stay in the water on a warm afternoon). Mid-day, just before lunch, we trekked up the hill to the African Savannah-home to three large African elephants named Hakari, Kiba, and Sukari. They were doing elephant things like sloshing in the mud, throwing dirt on their backs, and grunting while bumping into each other as they jockeyed for position. It was fun to watch and all three buddies enjoyed it thoroughly.
Hakari, Kiba, and Sukari are close in size, all dirty brown (gray underneath the dirt according to Cool Guy Buddy), have tusks of nearly the same length, big ears, big feet…you get the picture. So, how do you tell them apart? According to the information sign, you tell them apart by their tails. One has a short tail, one a medium tail with a kink in it, and one (Hakari, I think), a long tail with long hair at the end that drags the ground. And, sure enough, it was easy to spot Hakari who not only has long hair at the end of her (yes, her) tail, but also has a hairy belly (gross according to the buddies).
Later in the day as I was thinking about Hard Lessons, it was hard for me not to be reminded of a lot of so-called leaders I have seen. They spend their time sloshing in the mud, throwing dirt in the air, grunting and bumping into each other as they jockey for position, and in the process, their followers get muddy, dirty and squeezed. Unfortunately, they are hard to recognize because they keep their butts covered and we can’t see their tails. Or…can we?
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner