Training the Pig
Posted on February 25, 2016
There I was, driving down the road trying to take in all of the sights as I enjoyed the scenery. A fresh snow had blanketed the ground; there were only a few cars traveling on the newly salted roads, my coffee was warm, and my audio book played in the background. A sense of peaceful tranquility filled my mind.
Then… out of the corner of my eye, he grabbed my attention. A simple little pig. Standing outside his pen looking up to the sky. I began to think about a marketing piece I had read recently. It was a from a company that provided flying instructions.
“What makes you look skyward? Is it the whoosh of a jet airliner, or the mesmerizing drone of a personal aircraft surveying the countryside? Is it the sound of freedom to go where you want, when you want. Be part of the sky—let’s go flying!”
Imagine for a moment that this pig gets this marketing piece and goes out and signs up for classes. After all, it seems as though everyone can fly. And, once this pig became a great pilot many deals would be completed. All of those “when pigs fly” would finally pay off.
The strange thing is that you and I know that there is not enough training in the world to teach a pig to fly. No matter how much determination, or desire, it is just impossible. I once read a quote from Zig Ziglar about Shaquille O’Neal. Zig stated “Shaq, the seven- foot-one- inch, 312-lb all-star center, is an optimistic, positive thinker. However, I can tell you with confidence that with all of his positive thinking, he would be a complete failure as a jockey.”
There is another quote that I am reminded of, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
As leaders, we have a responsibility to teach and grow our team so that their weaknesses become irrelevant to their success. The problem with that strategy is that because we want to be nice and polite, we end up saying things and adjusting the playing field so the person we are leading can be “successful.”
Can you picture what the flight instructor’s reaction when Wilber the pig shows up for flight lessons? Someone needs to say “you are not cut out for this.” After all, we could get bigger wings, make the pig read more, maybe even extend the runway a few hundred feet. Get serious, no amount of training is going to help. In fact, we will be wasting a precious commodity, time.
As stupid as this sounds, I am sure that each of us has spent many hours trying to make that team member successful, all the while knowing that they are just not cut out for the position. In reality, all we are doing is providing a false and building up the view of success that will never come.
This week’s experiment is for you to take a good look at your team. Do not to call them pigs, but for the reason of honesty. You need to be honest with them if they are not cut out for the job. Most of all, you need to be honest with yourself. Just because you can’t teach a pig to fly does not mean you are a bad teacher.