Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Lessons from Geese"

transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien
at the 1991 Organizational Development Network and
was based on the work of Milton Olson.
It circulated to Outward Bound staff throughout the USA.
We share it here with the alumni community hoping that
we can all learn these lessons.

----bullet FACT 1:

As each goose flaps its wings it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow.
By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.


People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Science: Geese and some other species of birds migrate in distinctive “V” or “U” formations or in lines. By taking advantage of the wing tip vortex of the bird in front, each bird can save energy by reducing drag. The energy savings in flight can be as much as 50%.

----bullet FACT 2:

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.


If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

SCIENCE: Unable to find any info about this but this may be referring to the fact that geese have very keen eyesight and keep themselves in formation by focusing on the butt end of the goose in front of them (geese apparently have a very unique looking butt-end!) (Encyclopedia Americana - "GOOSE")

----bullet FACT 3:

When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.


It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.

Science: Contrary to popular opinion, the lead bird of the V formation is not always an adult male; rather, the geese shift their relative positions frequently during the flight. (Encyclopedia Americana "GOOSE")

----bullet FACT 4:

The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.


We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Science: Migrating geese make loud, honking noises, called contact calls, to help them stay together.

----bullet FACT 5:

When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.


If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

Science: Encounters such as detailed above, demonstrate that families of geese do not break up after the breeding season, but form strong family units that migrate and winter together until they return to their breeding ground.

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