Grasshopper Mind


OCTOBER 4, 2021



It’s a glorious day.  Birds are flocking around the feeders. Their observance of who feeds first is intriguing. When a bird jumps the line, it is quickly put in its place.  Pecking order must be maintained.


How did the term pecking order find its way into the world of humans?  It had to start with fowl. Something with a sharp beak. Inquiring minds need to know.


Sure enough, it originated with chickens.  The biggest, strongest, loudest chicken would first try to intimidate others with its size and sound.  If that didn’t work, next came pecking to inflict pain and fear. This continued down the flock, each trying to peck its way through the barnyard hierarchy.


The Happy Chicken Coop magazine (yes, it exists) offers this:

“Pecking order is how birds arrange their social standing in the flock.

The higher ranked birds get the best food, water, and roosts, while the lower-placed birds get the leftovers.

At the top of the hierarchy ladder is the head chicken.  Another can go up the ladder by successfully campaigning against the leader.

He becomes the new chicken-in-charge, and the defeated one goes down the ladder.

If a chicken goes out of turn it earns glares, pecks, and feather pulling from the higher ranked birds.

Usually, a look or a quick peck reminds the lower bird it has overstepped the boundary.

A pecking order can create a sense of harmony,

but it can also create havoc, with chickens fighting for their position within the order.”


Sound familiar?  Imagining the spacious corner office with private elevator, rarified air, a superior gatekeeper? Observe closely and you also feel the headaches and challenges that discourage coveting this roost. Envy just met reality. Reality reminds us that true leaders are a rare breed.


We need leaders, but fewer are willing to vy for the top.  A shift is occurring in life’s barnyard.  Fewer people are intimidated by the barnyard bully.  Even fewer care if they get to be number one.  More are discovering collaboration brings better results. Inclusive ambition is applauded.  Greedy and cheating birds get bumped off the feeder.  The flock, helped by technology, is making itself seen and heard


Do we need an established pecking order?  Can one be sustained?  We will always need leaders.  We need risk takers, visionaries, individuals willing to take on challenges and change.  We need a dedicated flock that will collaborate for the common good.  What’s your role? Leader, flock member, or both?


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