Not so many months ago, a young squirrel narrowly missed being hit by a car as he darted across the street. For some reason, this narrow miss was different than all the others. The squirrel scampered over to the shade of an old oak tree and laid down, thinking about the events of moments before. He silently wondered why he hadn’t really thought about all the close calls over his short few years. Maybe it was his new family, maybe he was maturing, maybe he was suddenly being enlightened by some higher power. Shaking his head, he realized he had no idea (he’s a squirrel, after all) and went back to darting higher and yonder, searching for whatever a squirrel searches for and running from anything squirrels run from — which is just about everything.

That evening after the missus had put the twins down for the night, our friend the squirrel climbed up his usual limb, stared into his usual window and watched his usual television, or at least that is what he thought he would be watching. But tonight, like earlier today, was different. Animal Planet was showing a documentary on lions of the Serengeti plain. He had never seen anything like this before! The beast was so much bigger than the neighbor’s cat and fast … wow! Was that lion fast! Our squirrel would return each evening, hoping to catch another glimpse of the terrifying, yet amazing animal. He quickly realized that the lion was the ultimate beast; afraid of nothing and a terror to its prey.

One night the missus accompanied him on his nocturnal adventure and they watched together as another episode with lions appeared on the television. Our squirrel had tried to explain the animal to her before but tonight as they watched together, they were both in awe. He said to his mate, “If only I was a lion. I could protect you and the kids from anything! We wouldn’t have to be afraid of everything. But of course, it’s just a dream. I can never be a lion,” he sighed.

Mrs. Squirrel said, “Are you sure? Are you sure you can never be a lion?” He answered with solemn affirmation. “Well, you may not be able to be a lion but you could learn how to act like one and maybe that would be enough. Why not see if he will be your mentor?” she asked him.

Later that night, he booked a trip to Africa using his frequent flier points (he’s a “flying” squirrel) and two weeks later he had found his way to the Serengeti. As fortune would have it, he was quickly discovered by a lion. And over the course of a few weeks he learned what separated him from the lion.

Squirrels expend great energy running to and fro, hoping to find some small piece of food. They never have enough. Constantly foraging, they store small morsels, never taking time to consider if there just might be a better way to live. They are focused on one thing, survival. Run to something, grab it. Run away. Hide. Try not to get killed. Repeat. They occasionally chase one another but that’s primarily to run other squirrels off. A squirrel doesn’t have much time for social endeavors. Squirrels are so busy “doing” they never stop to decide on a loftier goal and put together a plan to achieve it. They are perpetually playing to not lose, not playing to win. Survival mentality keeps squirrels in the scarcity mindset.

Of the many lessons our bushy-tailed friend learned was how lions are deliberate. They expend no unnecessary energy. They go to where the biggest meal is and look for the optimal approach for the win. Lions are purposeful. They don’t hunt small game when they can be hunting big game. They rest while remaining observant for the next opportunity. They don’t lie in the middle of the open field but wait quietly in the deep grass by the watering hole. They have other members of their pride and can work together at times, but they ultimately rely on their own skills. Skills they have carefully honed through training and practice. When they are on the hunt, they aren’t worrying about the competition, they are solely focused on their goal. They deliver the win and then they protect it. They know that a win isn’t a win if they do a poor job of protecting it and allowing another animal to come and claim it as theirs.

Our squirrel learned all that in an abbreviated time (he’s an exceptionally fast learner for a squirrel). He completed his mentoring program and began saying his goodbye to the lion, expecting to leave for home within the hour. But while he had truly learned much, he failed to understand one thing. The lion is a lion. The lion ate him.

Fellow revenue generators, do you find yourself identifying with the lion or the squirrel in this story?  Squirrels are scared. They are perpetually in survival mode. They waste tremendous energy going after the leftovers. They miss out on the big adventure of life. They are living with a scarcity mindset while the lion is confident. He has a goal. He uses his skills to focus on the largest opportunities. Lions are patient while purposeful. And lions fear nothing. They play to win. They are the king of the jungle.

If you feel bad for our friend the squirrel, recognize that they are both doing what they are designed to do. What have you been designed for? Nuts and seeds, or big game?

Brad Roderick
Brad Roderick

is executive vice president of InkCycle Inc. He is an industry veteran with more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience. He is an active member of the imaging industry as an author, trainer and speaker. Contact him at broderick@inkcycle.com.