Lessons from Geese

From a Speech By Angeles Arrien

Fact: With each flap of a wing, a goose creates an “uplift” for others to follow. When you see geese fly in a “V” formation it allows the geese to fly 71% further 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 when they are working together.

Fact: One of the reasons geese honk is to encourage those in front to keep up speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. When we are working with others, encouragement is often helpful to get the job done smoothly and quickly.

Fact: If a goose happens to fall out of formation, it will suddenly feel the resistance and drag of flying alone and fall back into place.

Lesson: If we are on a certain path, and we attempt to go at it alone without help or support, our efforts may be reduced. It is easier to accept the help of those who are going in the same direction, and give help to others along our route.

Fact: When the lead goose tires, it will fall out of formation and move to the back of the flock, allowing another to fly in the point position.

Lesson: Everyone has different skills, resources, and unique gifts to offer. It is important to take turns and share the hard tasks.

Fact: When a goose is wounded, shot or sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help protect it. They stay until it is able to regain strength enough to fly. Then they catch up with their flock or join another formation.

Lesson: If we have enough sense as the geese do, we stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

Transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network.