The award, the snake and the firefly

award1I had a great day last Wednesday giving a talk at the Practitioners Insights – Wisdom from Experiences Speakers’ Series at MA Global Management at Regent’s College London. What I did not expect was to be awarded the golden microphone award (see above in our trophy room) for donating my time to such a good cause. I am therefore dedicating this (my first ever) award to Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge who got me into all this complexity, narrative, conference speaking malarky in the first place and is currently tweeting that he does not get enough recognition for his efforts, so this one’s for you Dave.

I was in extremely good company, Ania Lichota shared her experiences of climbing the highest peak on every continent, culminating in Everest and using each as a metaphor for personal development and each rung on the management ladder. I was particularly taken by her admittance that she had left her ego on one of the summits. She has a book called “Why the hell bother” aimed at helping others realize their full potential.

In between our talks was legal eagle Enrique Sibauste Arosemena MD of Experta and member of the Panama Bar. He tried valiantly to have a conversation with the students but they were not in the mood to chat, then suddenly he told a folktale about the Snake and the Firefly that caught everyone’s attention and I don’t know why but I can’t get it out of my head.

There was once a firefly who liked to fly among the trees in a jungle.

One day, a snake came along and looked at the firefly flying around, working, eating, and shining with its great green light.

The snake didn’t have much to do, though, so he decided to chase the firefly around to eat him…

First just keeping a watchful eye, then slithering softly along and lastly chasing rapidly around.

The firefly flew, and flew, and flew as fast as those little wings could take him, but eventually grew tired and fell to the ground, where the snake was awaiting.

Before the snake could eat him, he pleaded to ask a few questions, to which the snake replied: “Hmm… I don’t usually give this privilege to my food, but go ahead”.

The firefly then asked “Am I in your food chain?”, and the snake answered “No…”.

“Are you hungry?” mumbled the defenceless little firefly. “Not really, no” said the vicious snake.

“Then why do you want to eat me?” whispered the firefly, to which the snake stated clearly

“Because I just can’t stand to see you shine!”


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