BUSINESS & LIFE: Lessons from the blackbirds

Valda Henry PhD

I was recently In-transit in Barbados and while sitting outside a restaurant, a blackbird kept persistently coming to my table. I placed a piece of chicken for it and it took it in its beak and flew away on a roof. Almost immediately a whole bevy of birds followed it and tried to take away the chicken, though I had placed another piece of chicken on the table. Another bird eventually came for the second piece of chicken and this bird flew to the ground with it, took a piece and flew way leaving the rest for other birds who had then flocked to eat and that set of birds shared. Then one came, snatched the remainder and flew away! Then there was one little bird with one leg and so could not fly as high or quickly as the others. I marveled it could fly with one leg. When it was trying to get some chicken, the other birds would chase it away, but it would persistently return. I gave it a piece of chicken, which it protected from the other birds. It returned for more. I gave it another piece, and this time it shared. I smiled inwardly musing that these birds were behaving just like people!

I could not help but reflect on the lessons from the blackbirds; lessons that can be applied in both our personal and business lives. In the first scenario, it showed persistence and preparation can get us what we desire, and when we do, we sometimes try to keep it all to ourselves. It also showed that when we achieve what we desire, others may try to snatch it from us, sometimes successfully. It showed further that in our attempts to take away what others have, and sometimes unsuccessfully, we miss out on our own opportunities. We are so busy trying to deny others, we don’t see that there is something better for us. In the second scenario, it showed that the importance of sharing, caring and love. We take what we need and ensure we share with others. It also showed a little bit of greed, selfishness and self-centeredness; thinking only of self, depriving others of what is theirs and destroying peace and stability. The last example showed a lack of caring for those less fortunate; yet also the ability to rise above our challenges to achieve what we want in life, and once we have achieved this, to be generous to others.

How can we apply this to our business life? It shows we must be vigilant; we must plan and prepare; we need to have our eyes on our goals and do what is necessary to achieve them. It demonstrated that we should not run after every opportunity that presents itself; that we should pursue opportunities that are aligned to our goals. It speaks of strategy. What is our business? What are our vision and mission and what strategies do we put in place to achieve them. In choosing strategies and options to achieve our goals we need to ask a few vital questions, including: Is this strategy consistent with our goals? Is this strategy effective? How do we maintain and sustain our competitive position?
Strategy is about choices and the choices we make determine the outcome. We should make choices that are consistent with our goals. Choices require wisdom, faith, discipline, courage and strength: Wisdom & Faith to make the right choice; the choice that will lead to our goals. Discipline, courage and strength to stick to the choices made, especially when other options are available, which may appear more attractive in the short term, and others may not understand our choices.

One of the aims of every business is to create value, value for customers, shareholders and other stakeholders, including employees. It is the creation and sustaining of value that leads to business success. A successful business requires reinvestment to provide opportunities for employees and customers, as well as invest in the communities they serve. Reinvesting in employees, the human resources of the organisation, by providing an environment of learning, growth and development typically leads to an engaged, professional, productive, happy workforce. Happy employees lead to happy customers, as they go over and above the call of duty to serve not just the customers but very importantly the business. They are vigilant to new opportunities, keep an eye on and control cost and wastage, hold themselves, coworkers and managers accountable, they take responsibility and own problems with a view to solution. Happy customers lead to repeat business and referrals and these keep a company in business, as it continues to meet, exceed and anticipate the needs of customers. A successful business in turn can positively impact its community by being a good corporate citizen, taking on worthy causes and projects, providing hope and opportunities for others. This approach widens the pool of persons who can benefit.

Another lesson for business is the spirit of embracing and overcoming challenges. The bird with one leg, did not give up. It somehow learnt to fly even with one leg, and while it could not fly as high and as fast as the others, it flew! Each according to his ability! It did not wait on others to bring food for it, it went out with the others to find food, and even when the others would not share or it could not find food, it kept coming back; it kept trying and when it succeeded, it guarded it well! And when it had enough, it shared. Things may be difficult: economic downturn, change in customers’ needs, lack of finance to expand, diversify or attract the right staff, may cause one to give up hope, however, one must keep going, try new strategies, keep focused on the company’s vision and pray for wisdom, courage and strength to persevere and overcome. We need to have faith and confidence in ourselves and our business, maintain a positive attitude and vision of success always before us to propel us forward. And in the words of Daddy Chess, “Forward, We Go!”

May the Lord continue to Bless, Keep and Hold Us in the Palm of His Hands, until We Meet Again! Love and Blessings Aplenty!

I can be contacted at or 767 449 9649.

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  1. nonamegal
    March 29, 2017

    Very good article. We need more businesses in DA to really read this.

  2. Asaka
    March 29, 2017

    Thanks Dr. Henry for your positive outlook and guidance for us all. It is not often to read such positive vibes but it was a pleasure reading your article and hearing the messages from the Blackbirds. Thank you and DNO for posting.

  3. Sylvester Cadette
    March 29, 2017

    Dr. Henry. Thanks for this very inspirational and motivational expose. As always a blessing to the heart, food for thought and some knowledge for everyone. this story immediately brings to light and to mind PSALM 19.
    The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.
    2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
    3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
    4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. …

    Thanks for these wonderful words of wisdom and have a blessed and successful week.

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