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27Jan2016

What I Learned From A Giraffe

giraffe-1

For many of our friends, clients, partners and connections, The Culture Coaches’ logo of a Giraffe is a familiar sight. We are often asked “Why the Giraffe?” So we thought it would be a great time to share with you why we chose the magnificent Giraffe as the perfect model for The Culture Coaches’ Mission of “Creating More Positive and Productive Workplaces.”

Animals and nature can provide great lessons and metaphors for humans. We are a species after all, so we just might have more in common than we realize. Giraffes are among the most awe-inspiring creatures on the planet. Their long necks, regal stance and beautiful features make them seem almost surreal, despite the fact that they roam the African plains with very real danger all around them. There are about 80,000 wild Giraffes in their native land of Africa. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado has the largest collection of Giraffes of any zoo in the world. We truly hope that after reading this, you’ll take notice not only of Giraffes, but also of your own potential and power.

Stand Tall: Be charismatic, confident and create a presence.

The Giraffe is the tallest of all land mammals making them awe-inspiring and magnificent. The adult Giraffe’s legs are taller than the average human. The average female Giraffe is 14 feet tall and the average male Giraffe is 17-18 feet tall. A baby Giraffe stands 6 feet tall. The tallest Giraffe on record is 22 feet!

My breath is always taken away from their shear size and elegance. How do people feel when you walk in a room? Do you stand with confidence? Would people call you charismatic? Have you thought about the type of presence you have and what you leave people with after each connection?

Look to the Horizon: See the future, set a vision and plan for what could be.

Because of the height of the Giraffe, they can see over trees toward what’s coming. They can “peer” into the future and see what is on the horizon. A Giraffe’s eyelashes are black and big, but they aren’t for cosmetic reasons. Their eyelashes help keep the dust out while living in dry places with dust storms and wind.

How often do you think about the future? What type of vision have you set for your life and work? Can you say that you are more proactive versus reactive? Opportunity knocks for those who are prepared and who have created a vision of how things could be. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stick Your Neck Out: Take risk and go for it!

The Giraffe’s neck is specially designed by nature to aid its hunt for food and see what is coming. A male Giraffe’s neck can be 7 feet in length and a female Giraffe’s neck is about five feet in length. Despite the length of its neck, the Giraffe has only seven neck bones. This is the same number that man and most other mammals have.

When it comes to sticking our own necks out it can feel scary and risky. But that is what every great leader has done. They have taken a risk, done something scary or attempted something others said they couldn’t do. We all must fight through fear and the unknown and do things we have never done before. “Do one thing a day that scares you.” -Elenore Roosevelt

Balance Heart and Edge: Have a gentle strength.

Giraffes are gentle creatures by nature. They aren’t carnivores so they don’t kill to survive. They are non-territorial and sociable, living in loose, open herds. Despite their size, they aren’t destructive. This being said, The Giraffe is one of the rare animals that can take on a lion, the king of the jungle. Giraffe legs are powerful and heavy, and each of them ends in a hard, sharp, 12-inch hoof the size of a dinner plate. With a swift kick of a large and powerful leg they can scare off prey or even injure to protect themselves or their young.

How well do you balance your heart and your edge? Do you approach with a gentleness that makes others comfortable? And when you need to, can you use courage to set boundaries, be truthful, share brutal facts, stand convicted or confront difficult issues?

Embrace Your Spots: Celebrate unique talents and patterns in everyone.

Giraffes are probably one of the most unique looking and interesting animals on the planet. Their scientific name is Camelleopard because they resemble both. Besides their size, two distinctive characteristics of the Giraffe include their spots and their gait. Giraffe spot patterns are a lot like our fingerprints. No Giraffe spot pattern is ever the same. They each get their own fingerprint. Humans are the same. Not only is our fingerprint unique, but so are our gifts, talents and personalities.

Each of us brings something special to the world. In fact, research shows that we have a set of gifts we do better than every 10,000 other people. Do you know your gifts? Are you working and living in alignment with your truest and authentic talents and passions each day? How can we all embrace and appreciate other people’s styles versus judging them or being frustrated?

Reach for Good Leaves: Aim Higher, set better standards and navigate the thorns.

Because of their height, Giraffes can reach more nutrient–rich leaves than other animals can. Giraffes adapt their diet to the region, but most of them eat acacia tree leaves and shoots. The Acacia leaves are a favorite of Giraffes, but those trees contain thorns. Giraffes have been able to use their long tongues – one of the largest of all mammals – which tend to be 18-20 inches, to manage around the thorns while getting to the leaves.

What we can learn from the Giraffe is thinking bigger about our life and the world. What do you aim for? How might you set more challenging goals for yourself? What makes you reach and get out of your comfort zone? Mastery is never a destination but a journey. And along that journey there will always be obstacles. We can all be more eloquent in how we handle the rough patches and challenging times. It’s getting through those obstacles that we learn the most valuable lessons in life that shape our character and our strength. How well do you navigate setbacks, change and challenge?

Encourage Each Other: Push Yourself and others toward potential.

Most Giraffe calves are born taller than most humans. Once cleaned up, they start standing and walking within an hour. They start running within a few hours of nursing. It takes about two years for a calf to grow to full size. After birth, mother Giraffes often have to “nudge” the calf with its adult legs and a bent knee encouraging the calf to take its first steps. After several falls the calf is up and walking but not without some pushing from mom. Most of us have had people in our lives who have pushed us to our potential even though we might have been scared, fearful or uncomfortable. Just like that baby Giraffe, when we push through the fear, we grow and develop in new ways.

If we truly care about others we should help them reach their potential. How might you be more encouraging to the people in your life? How might you gently nudge those around you to take the next step, set a goal, go for something big or make a needed improvement?

The next time you see a Giraffe, remember these awe-inspiring facts to impact your experience even more. Don’t wait until you visit a zoo or preserve. Borrow a few lessons from the Giraffe starting today and see the majestic impact you can have on your life and those around you.

 

This is one of our favorite Giraffe videos at The Culture Coaches, we can’t stop watching!

 

 

 

  • 27 Jan, 2016
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Bill Benjamin
Hi Joelle. Great article - the giraffe has always been my favorite animal and now I know why!

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