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To Catch a Wild Pig - A Parable About Society That Offers Valuable Lessons for Leaders

A friend of mine sent me a wonderful piece called "Catching the Wild Pig".  For those of you who have never heard this parable (and I hadn’t until now), here it is:

A chemistry professor at a large college had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Professor noticed one young man (exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt. The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist government.

In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, 'Do you know how to catch wild pigs?' The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. 'You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again.

You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat; you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.

Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America. The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. While we continually lose our freedoms — just a little at a time.   

I found this an extremely fascinating and interesting parable and one I can totally endorse. For we must guard carefully not to fall into the trap of being so dependent on the government that we lose our sense of responsibility for our live and even worse, the very spark of life. 

Yet, this also brings me to the recognition that we are caught in a rather interesting dilemma are we not.  While I agree with the "trap" of the wild pig and the problems that presents, we are also experiencing what happens when you let the pigs (pun intended) run wild (the effect of too much de-regulation for example) and the effects it has on our society overall. – Anyone enjoying the financial crisis we are in? So the real question, (and I believe the true answer) lies in how do we find the right balance. 

The trouble we have in our political system is we keep running back and forth between taming the wild pigs and letting them run wild.  Wildness is good for creativity, entrepreneurialism, and the like.  You want the free flow of energy to stimulate new innovation.  And yet when you have unbounded flow of energy you have chaos, which then has to correct itself.  As we learn to work with the powerful flow of societal energies, I believe we can learn to modulate the unbounded flow of energy while not reaching the point of constraining it to where we are limiting its flow. 

When are we ever going to get a leader that understands the need for balance and stop with the rhetoric of polar opposite making one side wrong and the other right (and I don’t care which side we are talking about). Is it not time for us to have true leadership in this country, and in our companies.  Leadership that can connect deeply with the soul of the entity (be it our country or our companies) and guide the energy that flows from there in a balanced way so that we are contributing effectively to our society and our planet?

Norman Wolife, President/CEO, Quantum Leaders, Inc nwolfe@quantumleaders.com

www.quantumleadersblog.com

http://twitter.com/normanwolfe

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