20 Dec

Do you know that Giraffes offer some of the best business lessons through their actions? Let me tell the birthing process of a baby Giraffe. 

The giraffe’s story begins in the vast African savannah, where life unfolds in all its magnificence.  With a powerful yet tender push, baby giraffe is pushed out of the comfort of a cozy 15 months stay in its mother’s womb into an unknown world. The calf’s first lesson begins with surviving a dizzying eight feet fall from its mother’s womb to the ground below.  

In that transformative moment, the baby lies motionless, its frail body curled up, too weak to move. The mother giraffe, her long neck gracefully lowering, gently smooches her baby with affection.  But whilst in this vulnerable state, life does not wait for the calf to bask in more than a few minutes of loving licks from mama giraffe.  It must immediately face a battery of extraordinary tests of strength and determination. Within mere minutes, mama giraffe would transform into the calf’s ADVERSARY!  The same one whose loving licks provided some comfort and familiarity a few seconds ago, would deliver a shocking kick that would propel the dazed calf flying into the air and tumbling back to the ground! 

Now, overwhelmed by pain and shock, the scared baby lies curled up. Mama giraffe would walk up to it and using her powerful legs would propel the calf into the air again with another kick!  And then yet another shocking kick would follow. Over and over until the baby giraffe, still trembling, frightened and tired, pushes its wobbly limbs and for the first time achieves a triumphant balance on its own feet. But standing will not be enough for the unrelentless mama giraffe. This time, she would launch at the baby with more powerful kicks, attacking the confidence and strength the shaky legs just picked up. 

More kicks, more falls. Repeatedly. With no help or intervention from other towering giraffes, the calf would soon discover strength within itself and find the determination to push its limbs to recover faster and stand up quicker to avoid mama’s unabating kicks. When mama’s unforgiving charge at the baby is finally unable to reach the calf fast enough to kick, she stops. She then lovingly locks necks with the exhausted calf and leads it away to find food. The calf has learnt: to survive precedes to find food. 

Okay, I was a little dramatic 😂, but I trust you found the giraffes enchanting journey just as inspiring as I did.  Here are some of the business lessons I learnt: 

Lesson 1: Resilience and adaptability: 

Survival, whether in the savannah or the corporate landscape, hinges on resilience.  The giraffe's birth story embodies bouncing back from setbacks, adapting to change, and persevering through adversity.  In the face of market fluctuations, economic downturns, competition, and technological disruptions, resilience transforms challenges into catalysts for continuous growth. 

Lesson 2: Embrace Challenges, Build Strength

The tale of the baby giraffe illustrates that adversity, when approached with a positive mindset, holds the potential to build strength. In the business context, challenges such as market fluctuations, economic downturns, intense competition, and technological disruptions can be likened to the kicks faced by the giraffe calf. Market fluctuations, akin to the unpredictability of maternal kicks, offer businesses opportunities to adapt, innovate, and explore new markets.  Economic downturns, like shocks to the calf, can prompt companies to streamline operations and identify new revenue streams for long-term financial strength. Intense competition, reminiscent of unrelenting kicks, encourages businesses to improve, innovate, and differentiate themselves.  Technological disruptions, akin to the baby giraffe adapting to a new environment, challenge companies to embrace change, fostering innovation and resilience. By perceiving these adversities as opportunities for growth, businesses can transform challenges into catalysts for enduring strength and success. 

Lesson 3: Embrace Discomfort and Leave the Comfort Zone

Mama giraffe's kicks serve as a reminder that true growth lies outside our comfort zones. To thrive in the today’s rapidly changing world of business, we must be willing to embrace discomfort, challenge the status quo, and push ourselves beyond our limits. 

Lesson 4: Continuous Improvement and Learning

The baby giraffe doesn't just stop at standing; it strives to recover faster and avoid future falls. This emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement and learning in the business world. Organizations that are committed to ongoing development, innovation, and refining their strategies are better equipped to thrive in a competitive environment. 

Lesson 5: Understanding the External Environment

The mother giraffe's awareness of the dangers posed by predators underscores the importance of understanding the external environment in business. Being attuned to market conditions, customer preferences, and potential threats allows businesses to make informed decisions and take proactive measures to ensure survival and growth. 

Lesson 6: Leadership and Compassion

Mama giraffe, despite being the source of challenges, also demonstrates a compassionate side by locking necks with the exhausted calf and leading it away to find food. This reflects the dual role of leadership in business - providing challenges for growth while also offering support and guidance. Effective leaders balance toughness with empathy, fostering a positive and nurturing environment.

Republished from Linkedin with the kind permission of Adeola (Danmola) Olumeyan - Assistant General Counsel/Company Executive at Channels Television and Advisory Board Member at the African Corporate and Governance Counsel

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