Survival of the Fittest


As I was running down the gravel road close to my rural home, I was surrounded by nature in all its glory through a cacophony (I love that word) of sounds and many different critters that were also out enjoying their day… a baby snake slithering slowly with what appeared to be an injury to its gut… yellow finches darting from branch to branch… a painted turtle sunning itself on a log in the small lake (I say small because in Minnesota’s land of 10,000 lakes it is not big to us but to someone from Denver or Tucson… it probably is considered a humongous lake).

Spring is the time of year where the female turtles leave the lakes and rivers to move to wetland grassy areas to lay their eggs.  On this particular road,  we see momma turtles slowly crossing the road to get to the grassy ditch area to drop their precious cargo.  Another thing about female turtles is that they are not maternal and will drop off their eggs, turn around and go back to where they came from… never looking back.

Invariably a turtle or two (or more) will get run over by a car when they are crossing the road either going to or returning from their egg dropping routine.  As a passionate turtle lover (ever since my painted turtle Myrtle won first place in a turtle race when I was six),  I get upset when I see a turtle that was killed during daylight hours because I believe we should all have our eyes on the lookout at this time of year to ensure the safety of the little creatures whose lands we inhabit.

On this particular day, it was not a momma turtle but a baby who got flattened by a tire.  I really could not blame the driver who ran it over because the baby was too small to ever be noticed… survival of the fittest.  This little turtle did not survive because it could not outrun the tire that was rapidly coming down its path.   This little turtle did have the safety training it needed to get out of the way.  This little guy (or gal) did not have momma turtle to mentor or guide to safety.  There were no second chances for this little one…

This made me start to think about how survival skills are needed not only in the wild but also in the jungle we find ourselves in what we call business.  What are the survival skills we need to hone in on as leaders to ensure our organizations are the ones that survive and that we do not get run over by our competitors?  I think the little hatchling (baby turtle) may have a few ideas for us:

  1. Protect your organizational family.  Make sure the newest members of the family have been given ample training and guidance to learn how to maneuver through challenges and dangerous situations.  Don’t be a momma turtle and just drop a new team member off at their work station and hope for the best.
  2. Be aware of new threats coming down the road (e.g. competitors’ new products, services or technology solutions) that could cause sure death to your organization if you are not proactive in determining a different path for your organization’s survival.
  3. Be quick.  Speed is everything to outrun the competition.  In today’s business environment, going slow and methodical by putting one foot leisurely in front of the other isn’t going to cut it.  You need to be quick and nimble with new ideas and solutions.
  4. Withdrawing and hiding in your shell is not an option.  You will be run over… you just won’t see when it is happening…

Survival of the fittest… being the biggest... or the strongest… or the quickest… or the brightest

Have you ever worked for an organization that moved slow and methodical?  How is that organization doing today compared to its competitors?

“Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” (Survivor TV Series, CBS)

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