So if you’re like me, half your friends on Facebook post uplifting pics, sarcastic pics, stupid pics, people I would like to punch in the throat pics (okay I do like that one). Most of the time I either ignore, chuckle, or shake my head as appropriate and move on to bigger and better things. This one however resonated with me.
“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” This made me wonder to myself, how many tree climbing fish do I know? Or more importantly, how many fish am I trying to get to climb a tree?
How much energy might we be wasting trying to get conformity, or trying to get people to do something they are not wired to do? The answer to that question might be scary. Are the right people not on the bus, or are we putting them in the wrong seats? As leaders we need to leverage our resources to maximize our output. That is not going to be achieved with an extensive tree climbing training program for our fish, and I certainly don’t want to be judged by my ability to teach fish to climb.
Now if there isn’t a roll for fish in our organization, that is a different problem. But we need to let the monkeys climb and let the fish swim. In other words, let people do what they do best. Leverage their skill sets to your mutual advantage. I regularly see marketing people struggle to produce a spreadsheet, and it falls short of the mark anyway. If they had asked anyone in the finance department it would have been done in minutes, and done better. Conversely, I can try and make an accountant artistic, or maybe I could let them do accounting. Different skill sets, different roles perhaps?
Justin Verlander isn’t judged by his ability to play shortstop or hit a ball. Barry Sanders wasn’t kept out of the hall of fame because he never kicked a field goal. Are we judging our fish on their tree climbing? I think that Big Al might be on to something.