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Salmon, Grizzly Bears, Corporate America, Money & Leadership

I wish to share a story with you. The story is about salmon, grizzly bears, Corporate America, money and leadership. The story, in of itself, is fairly simple because it touches on something most of us appreciate – the beauty and splendor of nature. Intertwined with visual imagery of nature, is an interpretation of the status of things – how all of our lives converge and mingle to create our current day Western society.

                Now think about all those salmon out there swimming up a stream or river, fighting ferociously against the current to higher ground and a place to breed. When a current is swift, the salmon must work hard to get to where it needs to go. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it, energy must be expended to reach destination and spawn. Otherwise, the life cycle of salmon is disrupted and the species may struggle to survive. This journey may sound boring and easy right? Well, not so fast. The journey can be quite dangerous, filled with predatorily perils – in particular – grizzly bears.

                In terms of being predators, grizzly bears (the few at the top of Corporate America), strategically place themselves in perfect swiping positions. Their claws are jagged and their teeth razor sharp. So there those few grizzly bears are, huddled together at a waterfall junction (jumping spot for the salmon) of elevation change, voraciously waiting for the brave-soul salmon to make their courageous leaps of faith, hanging foolishly in mid-air and ripe for a frenzied grizzly bear feast. Now some salmon, the salmon that leap with savviest agility, wink at the grizzly bears as they jump and motor on upstream toward the promise land. But not all salmon are so savvy when it comes to waterfall-jumping and winking. Some salmon just timed the jump improperly and end up with a tooth in the eye that was supposed to be winking. These salmon fill up the gut of the grizzlies quite well – a delicious snack after a period of slumbering and hibernation.

                So there those grizzlies sit, ‘slobbily’ chewing salmon and slurping the occasional and unexpected leaping oyster. As the feast continues, the Corporate America grizzers begin to dream of the next spawning season and what spoils will be there to await them. They rubs their claws together, sharpen their teeth, and have anything but bearish conversation. In fact, the conversation is all about the next feeding frenzy – the  next aquatic slaughtering of salmon and the indulgent results (money, heaping dump trucks full of cold hard beeping cash).

                Does Corporate America have far too many grizzers hanging out at junction of elevation change? Are there too many grizzers schmoozing with polar bears, collaborating on how to devour the greatest number of salmon? Translated in terms that make sense, is there a shortage of diplomatic bears (leadership or leaders) stationed at the waterfall (pandas and koalas) – the kind of bears that know how to calm down the ravenous beasts (grizzers and polars) and their feeding frenzies?

                Can you picture a grizzly bear, polar bear, panda bear, and koala bear hanging out at a waterfall together  discussing the salmon consumption situation? Do you think savvy salmon should wink at the gatekeeping grizzlies as they attempt to jump over the altitude divisive waterfall? Answer a few of these questions thoughtfully, and consider this brief story of salmon, grizzlies (other bears too), Corporate America, money, and leadership.

Final Question: If enough savvy salmon elude enough swiping claws and pool together, will the few grizzlies starve to death? 

Matthew Polkinghorne

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