Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lessons From The Geese — Coleen O'Connell

Today as I was sorting through the piles of papers that have been accumulating over the past years when I came across a piece by Milton Olson. It was at once a reading for this season as geese fly overhead, AND a reminder for our cohousing community as we continue to migrate toward groundbreaking.

Here is some wisdom from the geese:

Observation: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another. As Elizabeth and Coleen close on their houses, they are providing the uplift for Wendy & Hans, Denise & John, Bill & Sarah and others to get their homes ready for sale and sell them.

Observation: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others. Arielle and Rob are longing for Belfast from their Chicago home. How can we secure them jobs so they can return? They do have the good sense of geese. They know where they need to be.

Observation: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities, and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources. The Steering Committee, though committed to the end, is getting much needed help from those willing to step into leadership as “champs” of certain tasks that need doing. We are going to do this thing together!

Observation: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core of values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek. In general, BC&E is an upbeat and encouraging group. Feeling appreciated for hard work is a common sharing.

Observation: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong. Surely Chuck’s heart surgery this past summer engaged many as he recovered and found his form again.

We'll continue helping each other as we work toward breaking ground in the spring. The work we are all doing now is the foundation for the neighborhood we will be once we are moved in. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. If you're of a like mind, join our flock and fly with us!

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