“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So, a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death.
The story above has an interesting interpretation for us, as it involves our own activities in daily life. Since we were in School, we have all been fed a simple mantra, “Hard work is the key to success” but what if, all this while, we have been putting this key into the wrong lock?
“Hey, I’m sorry, I’m a little busy” “I have been busy for quite a while” “Ugh, I am so busy these days” ….do these statements sound familiar to you? More than often we find ourselves saying these words or hear from our peers and colleagues because in today’s world, all of us are busy doing “something.” It is almost like being busy has become synonymous to being hardworking. But is hard work paying off in any way?
A lion cannot live on field mice. A lion needs an antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. A lion can live a long and happy life on a diet of antelope. The distinction is important.
Applicability for Individuals:
Hard work is undoubtedly quintessential for success. Though, as much as it is important to put in efforts, it is also important to gauge the opportunity and identify if the time and resources employed were worthwhile or not. Today, we are living in times where the world is brimming with opportunities. With the internet reaching every nook and corner of the globe, there is a sea of opportunities in which you can either drown or sail through the other end where success awaits. In the gamut of opportunities, it is imperative to understand that not everything is for us. Just like all that glitters is not gold, every opportunity is not ideal.
“Most of us have no problem with being busy, but we’re often busy with the wrong things,” says Angie Morgan, co-author of Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success. “You could spend nine to five just emailing, but that’s not driving results or moving you toward longer, bigger goals. When people say, ‘I’m so busy,’ it really means, ‘I’m a poor planner,’ or, ‘I don’t know how to prioritise or delegate,” Angie argues.
To look at things from a better perspective, here is a small exercise that one can do. Take a minute to list down all the big tasks that you plan to do today that would take the bulk of your time, and rate them on a scale of 5 in order of importance. If you have most of 3s and below, then you need to stop and reflect whether they are adding any significance to your life in the light of your greater goals, or not. The lion can prance upon a mouse much easily, but he needs to be patient, observant and evaluative when looking for the right moment while hunting an antelope. Similarly, when taking up any opportunity, one must be careful about one’s goals and then consciously weigh if the outputs received are justified given the input that they will be putting in.
Applicability For Businesses:
In an interesting article written by Isaac Jeffries (where he made reference to the book, Tools of Titan by Tim Ferris), he has further made an interesting observation on how this can apply to businesses. For a business, an antelope might be a high value customer, a lucrative partner, a major distributor or a star recruit. Antelope know that they are attractive to lions, and won’t go seeking them out.
If you’re running a small business, other companies won’t be falling over themselves to work with you, hence why you’re on the prowl.Catching an antelope takes skill, patience, and sometimes more than one lion; there’s no guarantees of success, but you can certainly improve your odds. Each antelope you catch makes a difference, and you’ll get better at it over time.
A business owner has some interesting considerations here:
The first consideration is whether or not you’re interested in hunting mice at all.
Obviously, mouse hunting isn’t sustainable, but it can help solve an immediate hunger and keep you going while the antelope is away.This is especially true for a young lion, who benefits from being able to catch anything at all while they learn how to hunt.
You might also find that the mice lead you to more antelope – I’m working with a few businesses whose smaller customers are acting as evangelists, They introduce the entrepreneur to their boss and colleagues, who are often much bigger customers that were previously inaccessible.
The second consideration is whether or not you think there are any antelope in your part of the world.
Stalking an antelope takes patience and luck, but to paraphrase David Ogilvy, it helps to know which side of the savannah they’re on. Chasing an antelope uses different muscles and approaches than chasing twenty mice, so you can expect a decent learning curve. A learning curve shouldn’t stop you, just don’t go around promising people antelope curry on that first day.
The third consideration is whether or not you are a lion.
This is an analogy and it isn’t perfect for every industry – what would be a better metaphor for your style of hunting?
It might also be a reflection of your personality; maybe you need to recruit a lion who can either teach you or hunt on your behalf?
Are you spending all your time and exhausting all your energy catching field mice? In the short term it might give you a nice, rewarding feeling. But in the long run, you are going to die. So, ask yourself at the end of the day, “Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?”