I’m one of those disgustingly lucky people who doesn’t just work well with her boss, but actually likes him.
We’ve always been a study in how opposite personality types can appreciate and benefit from one anothers’ strengths. He’s an extravert. I’m an introvert. He likes things decided. I like exploring my options. He focuses on the bottom line, while I obsess about how getting there makes everyone feel. He sees what’s really happening while I float off some on “could be” cloud.
I want to be like a dog. He wants to be like a goose.
A few months ago, he told his small group of leaders that we were going to plan an office retreat around the theme of “Be A Goose.” My first thought was “Be a goose? Are you freaking serious?”
My experience with geese is pretty limited.
When I was a child, a big mean goose lived in my great-grandmother’s yard. When I was outside, it liked to chase me and peck me on the ass. It got to the point where when we pulled into her driveway, I’d make my grandfather carry me to the house so I could avoid goose-nipped buttcheeks.
As an adult, I’ve worked at the same college campus for years. There is a small man-made pond on campus. For a while, a flock of geese took up residence at the pond. They weren’t ass-biters like my great-grandmother’s goose, but they shit everywhere. Prospective students and their parents had to play hopscotch over big green gobs of gooseshit to get to the admissions office. I once had to speak at a President’s Council meeting, and the agenda item before my demo was the geese. I spent a half hour listening to the highest higher-ups on campus debate humane and efficient ways to remove the geese and their poop.
So the whole “Be A Goose” thing perplexed me. Why would we want our staff to peck each other on the ass and shit everywhere?
But as the boss unraveled his thoughts around the theme, things became clearer. I learned a lot about geese. For example, the way they fly in “V” formation allows them to reduce wind resistance. They take turns leading the formation, switching off when the current leader gets tired. If one goose becomes sick or injured and can no longer keep going, two other geese leave the formation with it and stay near it as it recuperates or passes on.
Chickens, meanwhile, are known to peck at each other constantly. When one chicken is pecked to the point of weakness, they gang up on it even more. I have to admit, this new tidbit of info makes me feel a lot better about all those buffalo wings I’ve eaten.
I never would have guessed that one of my favorite dinners is a bully, or that the birds I thought of as butt-munching poop machines were so good at supporting one another.
Considering all that, I could suddenly see how “be a goose” worked as a professional development theme. The boss put together a great day, and the “be a goose” motto has taken off without anyone pooping anywhere inappropriate.
For me, it was a lesson in perspective. What seems ugly and mean might also possess kindness and beauty, if I only bother to look deeper.
I’d still rather be a like a dog, but being a goose has its good points too.