Lessons From the Geese

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Fact 1: As each goose flap its wings it creates an“uplift” for the birds that follow.
By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range
than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common sense of direction and community can get
where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the
thrust of one another.
geese1
Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and
resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take
advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those
headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give
our help to others.
geese2
Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another
goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, as with
geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skill, capabilities and
unique arrangement of gifts, talents or resources.
geese3
Fact 4: The gees flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up
their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there
is encouragement, the productivity is much greater. The power of
encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the
heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.
geese4
Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of
formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it dies
or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up
with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult
times as well as when we are strong.

“Lessons from Geese” was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational
Development Network and is based on the work of Milton Olson.

Ryan is Chief Editor at Every Day, Getting Better. Ryan has been a basketball coach for over 20 years. Having coached at both the high school and middle school levels, Ryan felt it was time to pass on the stories and quotes that he has used to help motivate his teams. Ryan also contributes to the leadership development programs for the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
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