Don’t Leave It to Beaver

This past week we spent a few days at our cabin in Red River, New Mexico. I LOVE the river. It’s beautiful, powerful, and peaceful all at the same time.

As I write this post on the way home from our trip, I can’t resist sharing a leadership lesson from one of the river’s dwellers: the beaver. Yes, you know him (or her!), that flat-tailed, sharp-toothed workaholic.

Beavers are incredible producers. They work constantly! They never stop “doing” and are the ultimate activators! Every time I return to Red River, I see how their work has progressed. And while I appreciate the beavers’ dedication and drive, I take one issue with their constant production: when overdone, the beavers’ work can be destructive. 

Sometimes they dam up part of the river. This causes the water to be redirected outside of its normal path. And when the beavers need more supplies, they just chew down the closest tree. They don’t seem to care that the tree is a beautiful Aspen on private property! They’re only focused on getting the job done.

Another large beaver dam on our property at Red River

I like the beavers’ work ethic, but I really wish they had more direction, and here is the leadership lesson.

We can’t just be a bunch of beavers working very hard with no direction. When we allow our activities to drive us, we find ourselves doing things that don’t matter. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking that because we are busy “doing stuff,” we’re busy being productive.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re a leader, you need beavers! But be aware that beavers will work all day because they are compelled to work. It’s your responsibility to make sure their activities line up with where you are going.

Now, if you have a beaver with direction, you have a leader’s dream come true! I can’t imagine being a leader without beavers. They’re persistent and determined, even in the face of adversity and setbacks!

For example, last winter we had some incredible snow in Red River. When spring came, the snow on the mountains began to melt. The melting snow caused the rivers to swell and move extraordinarily fast, so fast in fact, that the force of the water destroyed many of the beaver dams. When summer rolled around, what do you think happened? Yep, the beavers were back at it again, relentlessly working to rebuild their dams.

The snowmelt that resulted in the raging rivers reminds me of the recession that challenged and wiped out so many businesses. The beavers’ determination to get right back to work rebuilding what they lost illustrates another lesson we can learn from them.

Are you going back to work with that unstoppable beaver mindset? Are you relentless about building your business back? Are your sales people putting in the activity needed like a beaver would?

This is a great season for beavers. If you aren’t one, then you best go hire one! Just know that you will need to lead them by giving them direction.


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