The Tiger Within
tiger story

A pregnant tiger stumbles through the woods, desperately seeking its next meal.  With her unborn cub weighing her down, the tiger mama is nearing the end of her rope.  If she doesn’t find something to eat soon, she’ll most certainly die.   Crawling out to edge of a rocky promontory, she looks down greedily on a field populated by dozens of goats. Summoning up one last effort, the tiger mama throws herself into space – only to die of exhaustion before she even reaches the ground.  Miraculously her tiger cub not only survives the fall but is born fully awake and conscious.  Looking around, it spies a mother goat and proceeds to begin nursing from the goat’s teats.  In a strange case of nature’s born enemies defying their instincts, the mother goat allows the cub to feed, thereby adopting the cub into the herd.

For twelve months and a day, the cub lives the carefree life of a goat  — leaping and frolicking with its goat siblings, eating grass and berries (and the occasional tin can) – convinced that it is, in fact, an actual goat.   Then one day, a ferocious, fully-grown tiger rushes out of the nearby forest, eager for a meal.   Realizing that its very survival is in jeopardy, the herd scatters in all directions – all except for the tiny tiger cub, frozen in place by a mixture of fear and awe.  Certain that it will soon be one dead goat, the cub cowers in the shadow of the mighty tiger, awaiting its fate like the brave soul that it is.  Surprisingly, rather than attacking the cub, the tiger bends down, grabs the little goat/tiger by the scruff of the neck, and carries it over to a nearby river.  Beholding its reflection in the water for the first time, with the adult tiger behind it, the cub suddenly realizes who and what it is.   Letting out a mighty ROAR, the cub embraces it tiger-ness in every cell of its body.   Together  – cub and adult — the two tigers trot back into the forest, eager to rejoin the tiger family.

(with thanks to Michael Meade and his book “Fate and Destiny”)

Like the cub who became a goat, teams, too, can go astray, losing sight of their true nature and, most importantly, their true destiny.
What is your team’s purpose?   What great things is your team fated to achieve?   And how successfully are you realizing your potential?

Teams, like people, have a tendency to stay small and “goat-like”, finding it safer to under-achieve, safer to stay invisible and under the radar.  For with success comes heightened expectations — not to mention the jealous attacks from other teams, hungry for recognition.   And yet remaining small is even more dangerous than going large.  With each passing week, you feel something snarling inside of you – your true team self, perhaps, demanding authentic expression.

As a team leader, it’s up to you to hold up a mirror in front of your teammates – to show them what’s possible, to challenge them to put their goat selves behind them, to encourage them to ROAR.