On my way to lunch today, I looked up to see a very well-fed crow feasting in the middle of the street. The fact that a car was barreling toward it at 40 miles an hour didn’t seem to phase it. Just as I was about to hit my brakes, it very casually took a few steps toward the side of the road, without so much as a glance my way. A quick look in my rearview mirror revealed that the ravenous bird had already bellied back up to its roadway table as soon as I had passed.
Despite their infamous reputations as nuisances (or worse)-after all, crows squawk, raid garbage, steal eggs, destroy seed crops, and . . . um . . . as my lunchtime experience reminded me, dine on other creatures not smart enough or fast enough to move out of the way-we have much we can learn from the crow.
Smart, adaptable problem solvers, they are among the most intelligent of birds. Studies have shown, for example, that some crows have even learned to recognize the McDonald’s logo on a paper bag and will choose those bags over others. They are so adaptable that they flourish in a variety of regions all over the world, ranging from the Tundra to deserts, from dense forests to pollution-choked cities.
And, long valued by mariners for their navigational prowess, a crow has an uncanny ability to fly the shortest distance between two points. Which brings me back to my lunchtime observation.
Facing the prospect of being flattened by my fast-moving vehicle, the crow made the simplest, shortest maneuver that was needed to move itself out of harm’s way. How many times, when faced with a challenge to our businesses, do we quickly assess the situation and take just the action that’s needed to avert disaster, and then get back to work? Many times, a minor adjustment is all that’s necessary. But often we panic and fly way off course with the solution we choose. Other times, we fail to act at all, and well . . . I don’t need to paint that picture.
Take a lesson from the crow: When faced with a business challenge, you may not need to make radical adjustments. There may be a simple solution that does the trick and lets you get back to the business at hand in no time. And don’t be afraid to ask for help-crows are well-known for working in pairs. I’d bet my lunch that crow had a partner in a treetop post playing “lookout” today.