We have a French Black Copper Maran rooster named Pierre. He guards his small flock of girls with rapt attention, tries to lead them around by showing he is bigger and louder than they are but that seldom works. He doesn’t understand that power alone isn’t sufficient for effective leadership. Watching chicken behavior provides all kinds of illustrations and here is another.
Every morning, Pierre starts crowing around first light which can be as early as 4:30 AM in the summertime. And this is before he is outside but since the windows of the chicken house and the door to my office are both open, and I usually start work around 5 AM, I listen to his incessant crowing and wonder why he feels it necessary to repeat the noise continuously for quite awhile. I wonder if he thinks (if he thinks at all) that he is encouraging the dawn and sunrise. Maybe it’s one of those conditioning things, as it seems to follow that the longer he crows, the lighter it gets.
Our previous FBCM rooster, Rex, who met his demise in the jaws of an Australian Shepherd, was truly regal and didn’t seem to display the same insecurities that must plague Pierre. Rex managed his flock quite well and they followed him faithfully whether in search of food or for protection . Rex did not display the need to crow so much although he did sound off early in the morning and his sound was even a bit more pleasant and soothing than Pierre’s. What am I to learn from all of this?
One of the first things is that no matter what I do or what I say, there are some things that cannot be changed and that will simply happen regardless of my behavior or attempted intervention. That reminds me of the serenity prayer of St. Francis, “Lord help me to accept those things I cannot change, to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” Since I have been a professional change agent for most of my career, the dynamics of planned change have been of particular interest to me in working with people and organizations.
A second lesson is that I should be thoughtful about when and where, how often and with whom I sound off. I should choose my words carefully, make them purposeful as well as soothing and comforting when appropriate. Being mindful about speaking whether to one or one hundred is just common sense and while spontaneity has its place, so does choosing one’s words with some considerable forethought. Writing, as an exercise, especially several drafts and revisions, gives us that opportunity and is time well spent.
The third lesson is one of patience. Learning how to wait for the sunrise and in that period of waiting take time for contemplation, meditation, and preparation serves me well for the rest of the day. That deepens the experience for me, sets a lot of things in order, and gives me an opportunity to express my gratitude for all that has been given to me. It sets the tone for what I can give back in terms of what I have learned, what has the best chance of working to achieve my objectives for today and beyond, and how I can make the most of this time given to me without any strings attached.
Pierre is now quiet, at least for the moment. I can hear some crows and other, smaller birds, and the sounds of my own thoughts swirling around as I get ready to launch into another day. It’s Monday to be specific, and I lay some plans for today and the rest of the week. We know the quote from Robert Burns poem, To a Mouse, written in 1786, about the best laid plans going awry. He turned up a mouse nest while plowing a field and expressed his dismay while acknowledging that the mouse need only be concerned about the present while Burns was a bit fearful of the future. This is part of what inspired Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, not among the most joyful of stories but one with great characters and impact.
The sun is up, another day has begun, it’s time to break the fast, the first phone call is done and there are hundreds of good choices ahead. Onward!