Tree climbing goatsNo. You’re not seeing things. These are goats in trees.

These goats love the fruit growing on argon trees west of Marrakesh, Morocco. They don’t care so much for the nut inside, so they spit it out.  People gather those nuts and make them into argon oil highly valued for food and in beauty products.

I was startled by these goats.  It was, at the very least, mentally disruptive.   As I thought about the experience, I realized there were leadership lessons to be learned from these tree climbing goats:

  1.  These goats don’t chase low hanging fruit. What they want is up in the trees, and the challenge did not stop them. It takes extraordinary measures to accomplish what they want, but they invested in the effort to be extraordinary.  Once they learned to climb trees, something they easily could say was “not their core strength,” they left behind what was on the ground for the riches of success.  These goats prove that if what you want is in the trees, you have to go for it.  One should not settle for less.  No leader should stay so focused on the past that they can’t figure out new ways to compete, and succeed.
  2. Once they became known for doing extraordinary things, people flocked to be next to these goats.  People want to be near goats that are unusual, and in some way better than other goats.  By seeking the extraordinary, and accomplishing the extraordinary, these goats merely need to “do their thing” and people are attracted to them.  People will feed these goats, and even pay their shepherds to be next to them and take photos.  Being extraordinary creates a winning situation that feeds on itself, creating additional wins – including attracting people to you.
  3. Because of their willingness to do something extraordinary, these goats have control over their shepherds.  In a real way, the shepherds need the goats much more than the goats need the shepherds.  The power wielded by tree climbing goats is not from being brutal, or micromanaging, or being “charismatic.”  They simply developed their power via their willingness to do something extraordinary — something their shepherds will not do.  Something most people will not do.  Simultaneously, the goats share their wealth with the shepherds.  While they receive lots of their favorite foods, the shepherds receive payments.  The goats have a symbiotic, sharing relationship with their handlers, and the people who visit and feed them, where everyone wins.

Here’s the bottom line:

No matter what you are doing, strive for the extraordinary.  You are not limited by “core strengths,” nor your past.  If you can visualize a goal you can seek that goal and you can work to accomplish that goal.  You can be extraordinary if you are willing to break out of your old self-definition and try.  These goats didn’t become successful tree climbers in one day, but by accomplishing their goal over time they became quite extraordinary.

It is good to be extraordinary.  Don’t just go for the low-hanging fruit, or what is easy.  Innovate.  Be disruptive.  The path may not be easy, or obvious, but the payoff can be as extraordinary as the accomplishment.

So what’s stopping you from being extraordinary?  What locks you in to your definition of your old “self?”  What goal can you set, and work to accomplish, that will set you apart and demonstrate you are extraordinary, and a leader someone should admire?