“I’m telling you,” Gary said as he looked at me from the other side of the table. “Financial forecasts have no relevance here!”
“I’m telling you! Financial forecasts are going to be essential for the financial guys in the room!” I responded.
Then, I took a deep breath and said, “I’m not going to argue with you.”
The look in Gary’s eyes suddenly softened and we talked in detail about how to move forward.
Here’s the thing: We, with the other participants, continued to talk and explore, to move our project forward. Over the next hour, we found that we really didn’t have a disagreement at all. What I discovered is that our approaches were what was different.
This discovery was possible because at the close of the meeting, Gary earnestly looked over at me and said, “Are we OK?” It was a wonderful, revealing gesture.
It was wonderful because it demonstrated the true nature of Gary’s heart. It was revealing because it was a catalyst for expansion of my vision. I thought we were OK the whole time. His question allowed me to see that he was still concerned.
“Just two old bulls butting heads!” I said.
Gary looked at me quizzically. “What do you mean?” he asked.
You may be asking yourself the same question.
I have large steers and small steers at my place. And, even though they’re all different, they also share some interesting traits. They have different personalities, are different physically and, they like to butt heads. It is a sport, of sorts, as well as a means of growth for them. Here’s what I’ve noticed about crazy head-butt sparring.
First, it is a natural activity. My steers are all in the same herd. They eat together, sleep together and head-butt together. The head butting is not a hostile activity in most cases. It’s just what they do. I know it is natural for them so I don’t worry about it at all.
Second, they head-butt to exchange societal norms. It is a way for a herd to pass on their society to the young. In other words, it is cows teaching other cows how to be cows. Cows who’ve lived a solitary life don’t know how to fit in a herd when they’re suddenly introduced. Just like humans, cows have social norms. The old always teach the young how to be part of the herd.
Third, head-butting builds physical strength. The larger animals push against each other as well as the young and smaller steers. It builds strength and agility throughout the herd. Do the biggest and strongest act as bullies, hence the origin of the term bully, from time to time? Yes. But such antagonistic pushing generally occurs around food and isn’t usually done to be mean.
Fourth, head-butting is fun. It’s a way for the animals to amuse and entertain each other. I love to watch them jump, buck and head-butt with each other. Their expression of joy always brings a smile to my face.
Finally, a herd of cattle always has leaders. Leaders are generally the strongest and most experienced animals in the herd. The most common way they establish leadership is through intensive head-butting sessions. Leadership is essential to maintaining a strong social bond as well as physical strength in a herd.
Our little herd in the room, the group working to raise investment capital for Gary’s company, is in the process of building social strength as part of our efforts to make the company and its leadership strong. It’s important for us to continue to head-butt, talk and explore, to move our project forward. Hours and hours of working together have shown us that we really don’t have a disagreement at all. We’ve discovered that head-butting is a natural, part of working together and will build our strength.
At the same time, two of the old bulls in our herd recognized their responsibility to create an environment filled with learning, growth and fun as essential components of increasing individual and group strength.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.