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Lessons Learned From Geese

January 1, 2014

Count me as an ardent admirer of Canadian Geese.

My first introduction to this clearly Yankee fowl, the Canadian Goose, came about with my late discovery by living, mostly now only summers, in the mysterious Northeast United States, or more particularly, the wonderful state of Maine.

Having been born in the South, the largest game bird I ever encountered in the wild (yes, also an ex-hunter) was the American Wild Turkey.  Also an admirable bird, as most southern hunters will assuredly attest, the wild turkey is renowned for its taste (on the table) and intelligence (i.e., Benjamin Franklin nominated the turkey, not the eagle, to be the official American Bird!).

The fully grown Canadian Goose, however, dwarfs the largest Florida  (and most other wild varieties) Wild Turkey by a mile!

But, more than a few of my Yankee friends do not necessarily share my enthusiasm for this magnificent waterfowl.  Among other complaints, something of that size relieving itself on your lake-side dock is not a pleasant event.  Nor fun to clean-up.  And, if you can imagine that unlike the turkey, most geese hang-out, all of the time, in very large groups…  Need I paint the picture further?

But to me, who also finds cool, clear evenings on a lake in late summer in Maine something of paradise, when those same geese  begin to gather for their flight to the South to escape the coming rigors of winter, it is wonderous almost beyond words.

Until you have stood on a dark lake, listening and watching a large flock of Canadian Geese, flying directly over you, honking loudly to each other and so close you feel you can touch them, silhouetted against the bright full moon or flying into an early setting sun to their unknown next destination, you simply haven’t lived.

We returned home from our Maine summer early this year; much too early for me.  Although it was early September, in Florida it still felt like July to me.  Worse, I knew the temperature and worse, the humidity, was likely not to change until, possibly, December! (This year, January?)

As much as I love my home state, it has been very clear to me since a very young child that I was actually kidnapped from Denmark (undoubtedly from a royal family) and brought to my adoptive parents in Florida at a very early age.  Certainly, no “Plan” could account for a person who cannot tolerate any heat, burns badly in minutes in the sun and who thrives on cold and wet weather, to  actually be born in Florida!

However, this year, just as I was re-visiting the unseasonable temperatures and my kidnapping, I, coincidentally, received a nice newsletter from my Maine church-home.  It quickly returned me, at least in spirit, to my summer-cool lake dock in Maine.

Our Maine pastor, in her newsletter, admitted ” borrowing” from previously used and published “facts” about Canadian Geese to make a few points of her own about the benefits of any church congregation. She (and any of several possible more original authors) likely won’t mind me sharing them with you, again.

Reading her comments about the value of any church group, I was also struck by just how any similar service group, including our profession and our professional sub-groups who contribute so much to our profession, can learn a thing or two from these same wild geese.

Quoting “Pastor Pat”, “Though sometimes we may belittle geese by using the term ‘silly goose’, the reality is that geese have a God-given wisdom that we would (all) do well to emulate.”

First, as each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow.  Allegedly, (see the lawyer side?) by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock adds 72% (others sources cite up to 78%) greater flying range than if each separate bird flew alone.

Second, when a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone.  It then quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately before it (and the lifting power of the entire group?)

Third, when the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the rear of the formation and another goose flies to take his/her place in the point (leadership) position.

Fourth, all of the geese flying formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed (and efforts for the benefit of the whole formation).

Fifth, when a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two other geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it.  These helper-geese then stay until the ill goose dies or is able to fly again.  Either way, the geese  that can then either join another flock or try to catch up with their original flock for all of their original reasons to be in a flock.

Pastor Pat is far more eloquent than I in comparing the usefulness of these teachings to a church or synagogue, or any service group, who clearly serve others better as a group than as individuals.

However, it also seemed to me that such group service examples also apply to our legal profession and even more acutely to those smaller sub-groups of our profession that offer so much more as a group than any of us can as individuals.

In short, our Bar associations, and all of the other legal sub-associations of lawyers,  are able to contribute so much more simply because the collective whole impact of any of these groups can contribute so much more than any single individual-member.

There are other “lessons (to be) learned from geese”; you may Google them as you will.  However, these noted five struck home for me as clear lessons regarding the role of groups and leaders of groups in serving others.

I hope they give you insight upon any social or other service group similarly important to you or your family, personal or professional.

In the meantime, I will remain an admirer of geese, particularly my Canadian-friends who remain “on the back roads, by the rivers of  my memories “*. 

*See, Gentle On My Mind; Words & Music by Glen Campbell

Happy New Year, 2014!

Dan, from Winter Park, Florida

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kest, Kristopher J. permalink
    January 2, 2014 11:49 am

    Nice post Dan.

    Kristopher Kest (bio)
    Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A.
    215 N. Eola Drive
    Orlando, FL 32801

  2. January 1, 2014 11:45 am

    Happy New Year, Dan! Look forward to working with you this year to encourage mediation as an alternative to traditional litigation.

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