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A lesson in business from the Cherokees

I wanted to share with you this fantastic parable, which I found this week as part of Salli Glover’s motivational makeover.

It's called 'Two Wolves - A Cherokee Parable', and it teaches a lot about management:

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life:  "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

"This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "which wolf will win?"

The old chief simply replied, "The one you feed."


Everyone has this fight inside them. But the difference between people who succeed and people who struggle is about how they treat their ‘wolves’.

Some people are feeding their ‘bad wolf’ continually – they worry a lot, focus on what went wrong and see the negative in people and situations. If this is you, what effect is it having on your business?

Everyone, without exception, has fear and self-doubt – but some people succeed in business anyway. What’s their secret?

These are the people who feed their ‘good wolf’. They have a good energy about them, they’re inspiring and positive and make the best of every situation. They aren’t super-human and they still have a lot of negative thoughts. They have simply learned not to fuel it, because they have realised they have a choice.

Sometimes, making that choice takes a bit of effort and practice, especially if your bad wolf has had it a bit too good lately. You also need to be able to catch yourself slipping bad wolf a sly titbit from time to time because old habits die hard.

I found another article by Salli this week about perfectionism, in which she challenges these typical views:
  • We confuse work with accomplishment.
  • We mistake frenetic, mind numbing activity with progress.
  • We do this because we are afraid that we are not yet enough. If we just keep up the running ourselves ragged and taking care of everything and everyone then people will respect us and love us and we can continue to pull off this farcical pantomime that we hope will pass as a successful life.
  • If we walk fast and look busy then hopefully no-one will notice we haven’t got the faintest idea what is going on!

This is classic bad wolf; a lot of us are feeding feelings this kind of stuff under the impression that it’s vital to business success. However, business leadership requires a strong sense of self-awareness, so we know how our weaknesses are affecting our personal productivity and business performance. Leading successful business needs us to be at our best all the time, inside and out.

When you’re struggling with a decision, a supplier or you’re getting stressed and worried, just stop and think – which wolf are you feeding?