Is it life or dinner for you?

I recently came across a quote that has been bouncing around my head ever since: “Every morning the gazelle wakes up and knows if it fails to outrun the fastest lion it will be killed. And every morning the lion wakes up and knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. So whether you are the lion or the gazelle: when that sun comes up, you’d better be ready!”

As I think about the quote, I realize that its premise is false. The gazelle does not have to outrun the fastest lion, but rather the slowest gazelle (because that’s the one the lion will be gunning for). The lion, on the other hand, will not starve if he does not outrun the slowest gazelle – at least not that day. And in fact, the gazelle usually gets away. Why is that? It’s because of something Richard Dawkins calls “the life-dinner principle”: for the lion, catching the gazelle means dinner. For the gazelle, not being caught by the lion means life. It’s pretty clear who is more motivated! As a coach, I have learned that when a client reaches out, it’s about “life”. And that client does not want a coach for whom the engagement is about “dinner”. That means real commitment, from both parties. So whether you are a client or a coach: when the sun comes up, you’d better be ready!