Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Goose Story

It was a gorgeous day today ... unseasonably warm and sunny with blue, cloudless skies. The drive to work was especially pretty, with a light mist rising and hovering close to the ground and filling up thickets along the road. As I drove around a curve I was greeted by four flocks of geese flying in formation on both sides of the road. I rolled down the window to listen to them, and kept pace with them for a few minutes, watching them change positions in the formation until my route turned and theirs continued straight ahead.

It got me thinking about the famous "goose story" of team-building seminar fame. I can't remember when I first heard it, but I like the way it tells the "birds of a feather flock together" story in a positive way. And because I've heard it, I never see geese without smiling:

The Goose Story

Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in "V" formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way:

As each bird flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in "V" formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs -- with people or with geese flying South.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What do we say when we honk from behind?

Finally, and this is important, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshots and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation, to catch up with their group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes - January 1992


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