An acorn fell on an unsuspecting, nervous chicken. Unaware that it was an acorn, Chicken Little decided it was something much, much bigger.
Henny Penny: “Where are you going, Chicken Little?”
Chicken Little: “Oh help! The sky is falling!”
Henny Penny: “How do you know?”
Chicken Little: “I saw it with my own eyes, and heard it with my own ears, and part of it fell on my head!”
Henny Penny: “This is terrible, just terrible! We’d better hurry up.”
Most of us remember the rest of the story. Chicken Little and Henny Penny run into Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey, who join forces to tell the king about the bad news, until they run into Foxy Loxy. Foxy Loxy sees the absurdity of their fear and a very nice dinner just waiting to be cooked. He leads them to his den and they are never seen again.
To avoid the Foxy Loxy’s of the world and keep change moving in the right direction, watch for these warning signs:
Telling a “big, bad story” before the facts are gathered.
The acorn was just an acorn, but Chicken Little, in her overreaction, told herself a story that created such fear half of her feathers fell out. The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. Our bodies react to them, because they are our interpretation of the event. Once we tell ourselves a terrifying story, our body goes into fight or flight and we find ourselves exhausted and vulnerable. Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself, and make sure you have the facts to back them up!
Spreading a big, bad story based upon someone else’s perception.
Henny Penny at least asked the question, “How do you know?” but failed to dig any further. Too often we are eager to pick up someone else’s bad news and run to the next person with it. I can’t tell you the number of corporate initiatives I’ve seen killed on the back of a big, bad story that spread like wildfire and was equally destructive. Sadly, these stories are rarely true.
Focusing on big, bad stories keep us from focusing on the right things.
When our energy goes to “What ifs?” and “Did you hear?” statements, all of the energy we could put into creating success is depleted. Rather than celebrating our great strides forward, we become vulnerable to the conniving manipulators who feed off of other people’s fears. They wait in the shadows, like Foxy Loxy, ready to pounce and take over once everything falls apart.
In fact, sometimes it’s the Foxy Loxy’s that start the rumor in the first place, just so they can swoop in, clean up, and grab the initiative for themselves!
Change presents a lot of unknowns, and it’s easy to become a Chicken Little as our hearts pound and the nets that used to catch us disappear.
Great change warriors, however, know that courage is at the heart of what they do. Great change warriors avoid the Chicken Little Syndrome by doing the following: