Dam Good Leadership

I once read an article about beavers. Yes, the little furry animals. The article discussed a study in which beavers would build a dam simply when they heard the noise of running water. 

The researcher put a beaver in a room with nothing but sticks and a speaker. They played a recording of running water, and the beaver built a dam over the speaker. Instinct took over, and the beaver built the dam.  

Not only do they build dams instinctively, but they also do it well. Many would argue that they do it too well, messing up water flow in streams and rivers. 

That got me thinking. What would people say if I asked: 

  • What are you known for doing well?  
  • What do you do almost instinctively?
  • What do you do when others don’t yet see the need? 

Allow me to take the beaver analogy a bit further. Just like how people don’t always appreciate the inherent value of what beavers do, the same might be true for your situation. Like a beaver squandering dam-building on a speaker in an empty room, you might be doing what you do well in an environment that doesn’t need, appreciate, or value your efforts. 

This week’s video and tool are designed to help you think through the questions posed in this article. As we sprint to the end of 2021, take the time to invest in yourself. Consider your strengths and how your team and organization value those. Then, work to position yourself to make the most significant possible contribution. 

Two years ago, I interviewed Patagonia’s Director of Philosophy, Vincent Stanley. Vincent taught me a great deal about understanding how we can strive to be the best at something and do it in a way that others value. I trust that his insights will help you on your journey.