Are You A Tonic Or A Toxin?

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Are you a tonic or a toxin? The 4th Monkey advises you to do no evil. Is your presence positive, beneficial, and invigorating or are you negative, detrimental and draining? The answers to this question will suggest whether you are a positive or negative influence on the lives of others.

Tonic

Do people walk away from you feeling, as if their spirits have been uplifted and inspired to have a great day? Are you epinephrine or adrenaline to someone needing a boost in their mood and enthusiasm? Are you an encouragement, a refreshment, a positive dose of energy? Are you the personification of Red Bull, 5-hour Energy or any other vitamin drink you can fathom?

My father loved Western TV shows. Invariably, there was an episode with a traveling medicine man. This salesperson would have an elixir which he swore would cure everything. This amazing tonic was exactly what the people needed to feel better, instantly. The medicine man was usually a Charlatan and the elixir / tonic was usually 80% alcohol. Nonetheless, the tonic was viewed as a positive concoction.

If you are a tonic, people walk away from you feeling stronger, more positive and capable of success. Your actions are viewed favorably. When you are a tonic some of the following attributes are noticed.

• You are often invited to meetings and social functions
• People enjoy your presence and positive / constructive contributions
• People want to be around you
• People want you on their team, department or organization
• People learn from you and feel their careers are being enhanced
• People go out of their way to say nice things to you and about you
• You are sought after for advice, coaching and mentoring opportunities
• You are inclusive and ensuring that others are involved
• People recommend you and your services
• People do not hesitate to be your cheerleaders
• People want to work hard for you and do their best work

Toxin

Are you a toxin? Are you a slowly debilitating individual that sucks the life out of people and drains the energy in the room? Do people walk away from you feeling tired, irritated, weak in their demeanor and worst for having interacted with you? Are you the killjoy, the party pooper, the person elected most likely to impede? Do people change their direction to avoid you and to go out of their way not to invite you to their gatherings? If you answered yes to any of these questions you are a certifiable toxin.

The toxin is a poison. When they are added to a team, organization or social group; joy, productivity and progress are diminished. The toxin may include the following signs:

• Negative attitude and negative input to conversations
• Always have a negative, opposing view
• Will always suggest why things will not work
• The official carriers of gossip and negative news and expectations
• Politically dangerous due to the number of enemies they make
• Do not know when to be quiet
• Possess poor emotional intelligence skills (EQ)
• Believe they have all the right answers; condescending and arrogant
• Chronically disengaged and encourage others to follow their negative example
• Work to undermine programs, progress and performance
• Chronic complainers without solutions
• When people walk away, they feel listless, tired and mentally and physically fatigued
• Dissatisfied with work, constantly looking for a new job, but they never leave

Toxins are to be purged from the body and cleared by the organism / organization. This cleansing will improve health and enhance longevity. The word toxin immediately recalls images of pollutants that are hazardous to our bodies, health and well-being. Both words, tonic and toxin are applicable to our daily lives, which includes our interactions with people and our environment.

Being a tonic or a toxin can also apply to the workplace. Is the workplace a tonic, which enhances your spirits and personal growth or a toxin that intoxicates, paralyzes and brings you down?

Whether work is a tonic or a toxin can have a profound effect on your mood and development. They can influence whether you look forward to going to work every day or dread this daily ritual. A tonic can have a positive effect on your health and your interactions. However, a toxin can affect your attendance and be harmful to you and everyone who encounters you.

A toxic work environment can damage employees and make them irritated, frustrated, frightened and nervous. A tonic personality can be influenced by toxic character traits; breaking down their positive job outlook and their outlook on life. A change in leadership, location and environment may be the necessary therapy in extreme cases of toxicity. Conversely, inserting a dose of positive tonic is like delivering a breath of fresh air into a toxic workplace.

The question of the day, the question for reflection is, “Are you a tonic or a toxin?” When you determine the answer to this question. You must take the necessary steps to enhance or correct your status.

Copyright © 2019 Orlando Ceaser
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The 4th Monkey – “Do No Evil”

I am reissuing, with a few modifications, my most popular blog post, for your consideration. The universal application of these age-old concepts is a tremendous value that should guide our behavior and interactions with each other.

We grew up with the story of the three monkeys. I imagine that many of us have the same interpretation of what they represent. We were exposed to pictures or statues. One monkey had his hands over his eyes, the second monkey with hands over his ears and the third monkey’s hands were over his mouth. They were see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura) and speak no evil (Iwazura). There were actions and behaviors demanded of us based on the three monkeys, but nothing was said about the fourth monkey. The fourth monkey was do no evil (Shizaru).

four-wise-monkeys

The stories of the four monkeys were popular in Japan in the 17th century. Their origin is between 2 and 4 BC in China. The Storyologer web-site (www.storyologer.com) has this account of Mahatma Gandhi who carried around a small statue of the three monkeys.  “Gandhi had a statue of three monkeys in three different postures. One was shutting his mouth with his hands, the other was shutting his ears similarly and the third one had put hands on his eyes. A visitor to his house became curious and questioned Gandhi about the various postures of the monkeys. Gandhi politely replied, “The one shutting his mouth tells us that we should not speak ill of anybody. The one shutting his ears tells us that we should not hear the ill of anybody. And the one shutting his eyes tells us that we should not see the ills of anybody. If we do so, we will have all goodness and nothing but goodness.”

Travelers will often find local markets with carved depictions or artwork featuring the three monkeys. My wife was able to purchase an angelic model of the same concept. There are three angels; one was covering her eyes, one was covering her ears and the other was covering her mouth. However, the fourth monkey was not shown. The 4th monkey, when pictured, is usually shown folding his arms (the body language of being closed) or covering his crotch to signify inactivity.

The different interpretations of the four monkeys is fascinating. In Buddhist tradition it meant don’t spend your time preoccupied with evil thoughts. In the West it relates to not facing up to our moral responsibility, for example turning a blind eye. But in my household, the monkeys were presented to us as a model of proper behavior. Our parents wanted us to identify with the images, to supplement our moral code.

See no evil (Mizaru)

We were told to pay attention to people and location(s). The idea was that if we were in the right location, we would minimize seeing trouble develop before our eyes. This was applicable in school and at work. We were instructed against being at the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place right. We were also told not to look for bad things in people or in certain situations. There are people who see bad things when they don’t exist, which could explain the manifestations of bias, stereotypes and profiling. We were not taught to be naïve, but to be careful and respectful.

Hear no evil (Kikazaru)

We were told to shield ourselves from bad language and bad intentions. We should stay away from people who spoke ill of others and gossiped. If we were not in the wrong place we could minimize hearing things that we should not hear. We were also instructed not to listen to foul or vulgar language. If we heard people language, especially regarding someone’s evil intentions, we could use the evil information to do good or to help others, that would be permissible.

Speak no evil (Iwazura)

Speak no evil was used to discourage gossiping or speaking ill will about someone. We were told to watch our language and to speak kind words. “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything” was a part of this same philosophy. Adults told us that spreading bad news or malicious information could come back to haunt us. We should also, apply this same advice to the workplace.

There is a misconception around the concept about someone. This misconception has led people to adopt a code of silence in the workplace when a person is not pulling their own weight. We would rather silently complain or resign, before talking about an employee who was not working. We would not want to be labeled a snitch or a stool pigeon. In the streets people would say, “snitches get stitches”. To speak evil of someone means telling a lie, varying false witness or defaming their reputation. However, it is our responsibility to find a way to report injustice, illegal behavior and practices that undermine people and the organization. Our intention should be to speak the truth in love without malice or premeditated negative objectives.

One way to break the code of silence is by offering incentives to whistleblowers. These individuals are people who step forward and report unlawful activities in an organization. They are generally paid a 10% bounty if the measure goes to court and fines are levied against the lawbreakers. In neighborhoods where people know the perpetrators of violence, but fail to come forward, there are no such incentives. Residents may be afraid of retribution, as the rationale for their silence. We must also realize that justice requires telling the truth and this should not be regarded as speaking evil of someone.

Do no evil (Shizaru)

The fourth monkey’s actions are truly related to the others. The workplace is a common place for the four monkeys to be used as an operating system. Employee bullying and intimidation, sexual-harassment claims, the presence of racial discrimination, unconscious bias and sexually charged language and actions exists in many organizations. Where improprieties and liberties are taken with people’s rights in the form of disrespectful words and actions, there are laws in place to prevent and punish these actions. Employees, who adopt a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mindset are not helping to develop a positive company culture or a respectful workplace

Do no evil is a perfect monkey to enforce the values of character and integrity. He reminds us of proper behavior and etiquette. Our choices have consequences and the more we can emphasize a positive corporate culture and a respectful workplace the more effective our organizations will be become. There is conduct and behavior norms which must be identified, emphasized and enforced vigorously. Character will minimize stress in the workplace and reduce the number of lawsuits and discipline related to improper behavior.

The do no evil mindset would influence our participation in the political process. Our dialogue in conversations around those who are different from us or have different opinions would be positively affected. If we operated each day thinking in terms of do no evil, we would be more empathetic in understanding of each other. We would put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors and seek to understand their point of, listen to their words and lay the foundation for greater chemistry instead of conflict.

How can we create an environment in our workplaces, families and communities, where people are held accountable for their own unlawful actions and the private citizens who come forward can feel safe and protected? If the fourth monkey was modeled, we would have less of a cause to talk about Mizaru (see no evil) and Kikazuru (hear no evil).

Do no evil and speak no evil should be magnified and connected to many of our guiding principles of behavior.  The Golden Rule and its equivalent in many cultures advise us to treat people the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule which asks us to treat people the way they want to be treated. The 10 Commandments implores us not to do a series of acts which could be seen as evil, such as murder, stealing, etc. you are instructed to love your neighbor as yourself. If we began from a position of love it is easier to think in terms of speak and do no evil.

We must clearly outline expectations of behavior and the judgment related to them to improve the climate in our organizations, homes and places where people meet. Correct action is essential to achieving healthy results in our relationships.

The imagery and practices espoused by the 4th monkey holds the key to making this possible. I am hopeful that by emphasizing the fourth monkey, we can improve our behaviors, connections, interactions and relationships with everyone.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

Ozone Layer Parenting Principles

The ozone layer is a natural phenomenon; like gravity. It surrounds the Earth and prevents us from being destroyed by the harmful rays of the sun. It serves as a force field, a buffer and a filter to ensure that ultra-violet light is converted to a form that is useful for creating a pleasant habitat for inhabitants of this planet.

The Ozone layer can serve as a metaphor to help explain and remember systems that affect our daily lives. For example, we can emulate its attributes to enable us to develop a means to creatively raise our young.

Living in the 21st Century, confronts us with challenges that affect our quality of life. We need to be actively engaged in our environment to train and develop those who are under our care.

The Ozone Layer Training and Development Program draws from the atmosphere. It contains a model that seeks to inspire us to naturally cultivate our instincts to parent to impact the world through creating stronger families and well-adjusted children. The model was introduced in the book, Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership; OrlandoCeaser.com and amazon.com,

The Ozone Layer Parenting Principles emulates characteristics of the ozone layer and applies them to raising children. These principles have been around for thousands of years but may not have been categorized this way. For example, my parents used these principles in raising eleven children and my wife and I used them to raise our son and daughter. We did not refer to them as Ozone Layer Parenting Principles, but the concepts were embedded in our philosophies and actions.

Ozone Layer Parenting has 5 guiding principles. You will recognize them and identify with their purpose. I am hopeful, they can help you structure your actions. The Ozone Layer Parenting Principles can stimulate individual and group decisions to customize and individualize instinctive means to parent more effectively.

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The 5 principles of Ozone Layer Parenting are:

  1. Directive
  2. Protective
  3. Selective
  4. Corrective
  5. Effective

Directive 

Directive is a quality assigned to leadership, parenting, training and coaching. This attribute confirms there is a vision, a mission, strategy, values and a belief system to reach goals. You will apply the directive principle to your family. You are the person or persons accountable for bringing the children into the world and steering them along the right path. You have rules and regulations to implement and enforce in your home. Also, you will ensure that everyone is educated about the rules and consequences of disobedience.

People may draw upon the way they were raised to decide what to do and what not to do in raising their children. Many families may have different laws, but in their home, they will decide on the operating laws and principles.

Protective 

When I looked into my newborn daughter’s eyes, this bundle of joy, initiated feelings of love and protection. I promised to do everything in my power to ensure that she was happy and safe. This pledge magnified as she grew older through the various stages of her life. My son generated the same emotions at his birth.

A parent’s desire, the instinct to give life and protect life is like a lion and lioness, as they approach their cubs. The lion family unit is called a pride, which seems aptly named to signify their attachment to their group. I remember the many ways we child proofed our homes, told our children to beware of strangers and searched for safe neighborhoods when we chose to relocate for my job.

Our hearts are broken when we hear about school shootings and the demand for gun control and measures to help parents ensure they can exercise their protective mandate in the development of their children. Many schools have safe passage zones which are protected routes where children can walk back and forth from school to home.

The abuse of prescription and recreational drugs traumatize our minds and sense of security. You add to this the increase in crime and reduction in morality and you see why the protective principle is so important.

Selective

The Ozone Layer will filter ultra-violet light to prevent dangerous light from entering our atmosphere. As parents, we must make sure that everything that looks enticing is not consumed by our families. We limit the exposure to certain stimuli, whether it is cell-phones, television, people and questionable activities. We establish boundaries, restrictions, and acceptable practices through rules and regulations.

We know the importance of diet and exercise, whether we stick to them or not. We read about proper quantities of the correct nutrients for good health.

Initially, we are very involved in their friendships. We constantly speak on the value of running with the right crowd and to stay away from unsavory people. The selective principle can cause friction as children enter the teenage years and want more independence.

Corrective

The Ozone Layer will correct itself. A hole in the natural ozone layer was noted many years ago. This opening is becoming smaller because we put practices in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. When we change our behavior, we can change our results and rectify bad decisions. Parents provide feedback and encouragement to children about their performance and possibilities. We have an obligation to institute disciple and enforcement when behavior is sub-par, and rules are broken.

It is also a sound practice to apologize, and show we are human and make mistakes. This teaches a very valuable lesson when we are wrong and must correct our actions. Course corrections are necessary when actions, programs and behavior have deviated from your desired path and you are not achieving the desirable result.

Effective

Parenting is one of those professions where you are always learning on the job. Many of us did not receive training and an instructional manual or app when we became parents. There does not seem to be any guarantees, however when we show children the right path, although they may occasionally stray from it, they will return, because they have seen the path.

We can increase our effectiveness as we connect and coordinate with individuals charged with training and developing our offspring. Parents involved in raising their children in partnership with other members of the child care and development team will ensure there are coordinated strategies to enrich and enlighten us to encourage students and enforce the 5 principles.

It is important to incorporate the 5 principles into your parenting strategy. These principles advise us about the value of celebrating success, building self esteem through words of encouragement, giving them chores to help build responsibilities, follow through on discipline and should lead to well-adjusted children.

We are surrounded by natural systems and models which could give us helpful metaphors. These metaphors could be a road map to lead us to information that can help us devise innovative strategies to direct, protect, select, and correct our children and increase our child rearing effectiveness.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

 

The Black Panther Strikes

BlackPanter

The Black Panther movie strikes a chord with movie goers around the world. It is shattering box office records. It is catalytic in its messaging, story-line and visual excitement. People are using it to express profound pride, as it delivers lessons on universal themes, humanity, equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as the pursuit of excellence.

I have seen the movie 3 times, including 3-D and IMAX. Each time I walked away with greater insight. I read the comic book as a youth, so this is nostalgic and a long time coming.

Poetry and the arts allow us the opportunity to express ideas which are magnified with individual interpretation. When translated, transferred and transformed through the prism of our experiences, the results can be nothing short of amazing. Here is my poetic take on the Black Panther experience.

The Black Panther Strikes

The Black Panther strikes;

The images inspire imagination;

Invite, excite and ignite

The embers of genius

Until we remember with fascination

The universal themes and memes

That elicit dreams of excellence

That stream a new ideology;

That emphasizes and empathizes

To aspire desire,

To fire a higher reach,

Through awe and technology.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

As a cultural phenomenon,

For those among us who’d like an icon;

A super hero with super powers

That look like us with a face like ours;

To build confidence and regal speech,

To show what is possible,

When obstacles are breached;

When an illusion is legal,

But is shifted

And confusion is lifted

And giftedness is the new twist

To enlist us in the new success,

Which is true success.

 

The Black Panther strikes;

To the heart of the marginalized;

The underserved and disenfranchised;

The heirs, apparently in poverty,

Seeking their cultural identity;

Phenomenally packaged in energy.

They speak seeking a symphony,

In harmony and synergy.

 

Empathy and intellect can remove

Barriers, as we get involved

And agree to work to solve

The problems that surround us

And have bound us.

We must lift every man,

Woman and child to a place of forgiveness,

Where we can be reconciled;

To share, prepare and repair;

To lift each other from despair.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Directly to community;

Inciting citizens in unity;

And stirs the blending of generations

Through tribal traditions

And pageantry.

We show young people

Who they can be

And celebrate their ancestry;

Seeking challenges to prove they’re free.

Science, technology, engineering and math;

Can help us blaze a wider path;

To channel the rage

And engage on a stage

That is larger than we

Intended, but to accept

The mantel and comprehend;

What we should support,

What we should defend.

 

The Black Panther strikes

To protect the family

And project the family,

As the center of cultural identity;

The truth is, we are all related,

Although our lineage is debated.

We have the capacity;

To help others improve their lot.

We can’t afford to hoard

Resources, when we’ve got

The power through distribution,

To offer solutions.

 

The Black Panther strikes

A story to which we can all relate;

To entertain and educate

And inspire action

Through universal mores

Of dignity and deliverance,

Eloquence and excellence;

Leadership and tough decisions;

Technology executed with precision.

Ancestors deserving a connection;

Connective tissue is in each of us

Enabling us to adjust,

So that we love and trust.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Through imagination and truths,

From elders down through our youth;

For Millennials and women have value,

The men and young boys have talent

And though steeped in the values of tradition,

The motives that drive ambition;

They are inspired through art and technology;

That transcends pathology;

And through mythology

Explore new pathways

Beyond injustice and inequality.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

So close to home.

There are delegations of youth

At the screenings;

Reporters postulating the meaning,

As millions with African descent,

Extoll the messages and what they represent

And seeing it as a rallying cry;

A cry to honor our first investors

To honor our elders and ancestors;

Imploring us not to forget,

Their sacrifices, wisdom and toil,

For roots and foundation

Enrich the soil.

 

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in an acronym SMILE (So Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you must displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

Are you smarter than a Squirrel?

squirrel

I believe that anybody and anything can teach me something. I believe I can learn from everything in my environment. Sometimes it is nature and the animals that are my greatest teachers.

I was sitting in the kitchen one day observing activities outside my window. My wife is an avid gardener, so in front of me were many varieties of flowering plants. There were xenias, Echinacea, sunflowers, roses and many others; a botanical garden that held my attention. There were hummingbirds darting back and forth to my delight. In the center of the garden was a small tree from which she hung one of her bird feeders.

She had a problem with the squirrels. They could usually be found sitting in the bird feeder eating the seeds she purchased to attract and feed her assortment of feathered friends. She purchased from the garden store, a revolutionary bird feeder designed to be “squirrel proof”. This new bird feeder looked like something from outer space or a cross between a jellyfish and a Portuguese man of war. It had a large dome which was to protect the bird food from the squirrels. The food was housed in a cylinder from the center of the dome. Finally, she had a bird feeder to keep away the squirrels.

A curious sight developed in front of me. A squirrel came by to feed or to see the new contraption. Did someone think this device would keep him from the food? The squirrel jumped on the tree, climbed to the limb from which the bird feeder hung and climbed down the chain to the top of the dome. When he reached the dome he fell quickly to the ground. The look on his face as he frantically tried to grab something to hold onto was priceless. He fell to the ground quickly. He looked at the new feeder as if to say, “What happened?” He seemed to love a challenge. He dusted himself off to try again. He tried several more times to master the bird feeder, but with the same result, landing flat on his feet and disappointed on the ground. I felt my wife had made the right decision on this new bird feeder. The frustrated squirrel stared at the bird feeder, as if to study it. If I didn’t know better, I would think he was trying to figure out the best approach. Squirrels have a reputation as creative thinking creatures; causing havoc in many locations.

Finally, he climbed the tree, as he had before, with the same determination. This time, I paid attention to the pink ribbon my wife had placed on the top of the bird feeder to make it look attractive. The squirrel lowered himself slowly down the chain, as he had done before. This time, however, he stopped at the pink ribbon. What came next stunned me. He slowly pushed his tail through the bow, she had meticulously tied. He locked his tail in the loop of the bow, anchored himself and slowly slid over the side of the dome, until he was perched over the feeding tray. There he hung upside down helping himself to the food that was denied him. It was a marvel to behold.

I called my wife and told her what had happened. She was upset. She muttered something about false advertising. She immediately packed up the bird feeder and took it back to the garden store. The bird feeder was squirrel resistant, but not squirrel proof. I tried to persuade her to just remove the ribbon, but that was not enough. The squirrel proof claim had already become null and void for her.

If animals can face a problem and use instinct or ingenuity to arrive at a solution, what can we do, since we are the wisest of all creatures on the planet? We could say it was an accident and the squirrel was lucky. However, the truth still stands, it solved a problem. If we review all available options, we find that the squirrel when faced with a problem was:

• Motivated to succeed – hunger or hunger prevention
• Persistent mentally and physically in trying different approaches (tenacious)
• Tried many choices and different decisions
• Used available resources to solve the problem
• Savored the victory

We told this story to our real estate agent and she told a similar story. Apparently, a client placed oil on a bird feeder to keep the squirrels away. The squirrels would slide off the feeder. However, one squirrel was seen rolling in the dirt until he was covered with a mixture of oil and dirt. The dirt enabled him to get traction so that he could hold onto the feeder and not slide off. This seems like a calculated, reasoned approach to solving a problem. She was able to get the food without slipping off and falling to the ground.

When we lived in Ohio, my wife had her signature garden again. Her problem with squirrels was their aggressive nature around her sunflowers. They would take the seeds from the sunflowers. She collected the sunflower seeds for planting and eating. There was one sunflower that was her pride and joy. It literally had a 12 inch head. She decided the cover the head of her largest sunflower with a plastic bag before we went to church to prevent the squirrels from stealing the seeds. When we returned from church, there was no trace of the sunflower head. It had apparently been chewed off at the base and dragged away. Well that’s the story we tell, and we have no reason or evidence to think anyone climbed the fence to destroy this one sunflower, but our usual suspects, our fine furry little friends.

Do not underestimate the creativity of a determined animal. We should not underestimate our ingenuity when passionate about a cause and resilient in our methods. So the question remains, “Are you smarter than a squirrel?”

Copyright © 2010 Orlando Ceaser