Posted by: malstott | February 12, 2013

Leadership Lessons from the Black Snake of 2013

snake2I don’t like snakes. I suppose the Garden of Eden story doesn’t help matters. And frankly the Indiana Jones movies set me back in terms of dealing with my snake phobia.  Not only is 2013 the year of the snake, it is the year of the black water snake. That might be my worst nightmare. I understand that few water snakes are poisonous and they will try hard to stay out-of-the-way of humans, but I still don’t want to swim with one. Snakes in the water are the theme this Chinese New Year and there is something here to learn.

I’m in the habit of looking for leadership ideas in all corners, even when a snake might be in one of them.

  • Shed your past – Walk away (or slither away) from the skin of your past. There is no need to drag the past around with you. Take a lesson from the snake. Grow up and move on with what fits you today. Leave behind what is unhealthy.
  • Quietly approach  – It isn’t necessary to be the loud one. Listening more than we speak is a virtue and takes practice. Practice the art of silence. Leave gaps in your speech so that thoughts can sink in and so that others can chime in. Observing the dynamics of a room without creating your own ripple will teach you much about your team or your audience.
  • Calculate the risks – Careful consideration of people, circumstances, timing and risks is a good way to make your moves effective. You will conserve energy and will reap more satisfaction from the work you do because the success rate will increase. This isn’t a push for analysis paralysis. It isn’t an excuse to never or seldom make a move. It is an admonition to count the costs prior to the strike.
  • Be Patient – Let the “fill in the blank” come to you. Let opportunities come to you. Let relationships come to you. Don’t anxiously scramble for your next meal, job, relationship, opportunity. Position yourself in the right place, prepare yourself for the moment and then be patient. Living life with less anxiety is not only a recipe for a longer life, it is also a way to react to what is really there rather than what you want to be there.
  • Strike with focus and energy – When you are ready to make a move, don’t be half-hearted. Move with a fierceness and determination that will land your prey or said in a more positive way,  will accomplish your goal. But don’t make the move before you have prepared.

We can learn from the snake. For the next few weeks we will see more snake images as the New Year celebrations continue. Let those pictures trigger your new resolve to leave your past behind, quietly calculate the implications of your next move, patiently wait for the right moment and strike the future with focus and follow through. Sounds like a snaky recipe for success.

Gung Hay Fat Choy to you.



  1. […] Space:  Be slow to speak. Allow others to move first and talk first when gathering information or making a decision. Take the […]

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