I heard a story on a Podcast a few months ago. I am not certain, but I believe it was Rory Vaden who told it. It was an observation by a rancher out west. His spread was bordered to the west by a mountain range, and he raised both cattle and buffalo. Time after time he witnessed the same phenomenon when a storm would move in from the west. All the cattle would sense the storm and move away from it as a group, while the buffalo would instinctively move east, into the storm? The rancher was intrigued and followed each group during the next storms to see what happened to the two breeds.
The cattle found themselves in the middle of the plain when the storm hit. They huddled together for support and protection and “hunkered down” to ride out the heavy wind, rain and lightning for hours. Conversely, when the rancher followed the bison, they reached the mountain range by the time the storm hit. They found shelter from the wind and rain against the steep slopes of the mountain. They were able to roam about and feed during the light rainfall and calm winds.
The lesson from these two noble beasts is when a storm is coming, if you react out of fear, you will likely expose yourself to greater risk than if you follow reason. The reasonable approach may well be to head into the storm if that is where you can find your shelter rather than run away into the unknown distance where you may be totally exposed.
As leaders, it is our job to help our teams act rationally amidst the storms that come. We have to survey the landscape and determine where we really need to go to ride out the storms. We may call that our Mission, Core Values, or Hedgehog Concept. Even the bible tells us that God’s people will flee to the hills when the final battle hits the plain of Armageddon.
It is also true, however, the rocky mountainside will not sustain the herd, so we have to move out on the plains to feed. If all we do is cling to the rock we will be miserable and hungry in time. We have to be able to lead our people into the sunshine and take advantage of the good times. All the while being alert for the next big storm and developing a strategy to lead our teams out of danger again when it hits.
One last piece of advice using this analogy… There are a lot more cattle than buffalo. As you survey the landscape and you see the crowd moving in one direction, you will likely find more opportunity and safety going against the flow. Therefore, I suggest we go the way of the buffalo.