Tuesday, August 6, 2019

When Doves Fly and Cats Leap

doves on fence

'Tis summer in Boise. There is smoke in the air from surrounding wildfires, fields of corn, pastures of cured grasses, and doves on the fence. Any other day, I would go about by business of getting ready for work; but today I took a minute to watch the doves.

"Ok, Pam, so what do doves have to do with leadership?" you ask. Not much if you look at the picture accompanying this blog. Many of you probably see a bunch of doves sitting on the fence. A few of you might see a dove caught in mid-flight. The story is really about what you don't see because it all happened before the picture was taken or is outside the camera lens.

If you know me, you know I think about leadership ALL the time. Leadership is a 24/7-365-days-a-year thing. Leadership is not something we do at work when we aren't fighting fire. In fact, I would venture to say, we spend most of our time being a leader in our personal time.

Back to the doves...

What you don't see in the picture is about 30 doves finding sanctuary in our back yard during the morning hours. My husband had recently filled the bird feeder, so the smaller birds had kicked out some of the seed for their larger feathered friends. You don't see the dozen or more doves at the base of the feeder, those sitting on the shed, or our big cat, Simon, lounging on his perch watching from afar, tail twitching with anticipation.

cat on perch watching doves

As I watched the doves on the fence wait for the opportunity to have their turn at the seed, I couldn't help notice the power dynamics of the situation. (My husband called it "pecking order" as he helped me quietly open the door for a picture. Even my husband is not immune from my leadership stories.) There were birds of all ages, sexes, sizes, and confidence levels. The larger birds didn't seem to have a problem swooping down for a bite to eat. However, there was a smaller bird who methodically worked its way along the fence until it was confident enough to fly down to feast.

Leadership is like this. We don't always have the confidence to jump into action. Some of us think we need the authority to be a leader. Some of us lack the confidence to join in even though we know we should. Some of us never leave the fence and watch from afar. And some of us are like Simon who patiently waits with baited breath for the perfect time to jump into action and create chaos (and maybe, just maybe, feast as well).

Each of these leadership examples is important and exist in our organization. We develop our leadership art through patience as we build up the confidence to join the game. Where are you in the story?

See you on the fence, around the feeder, or bounding from the perch!

Until next time...

P.S. Don't forget to rest!
cat sleeping

Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.

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