Are you a squirrel or a rat?


Has it ever occurred to you that a squirrel is just a rat with a fluffy tail?  Recently I had a long walk through woodland beside the Thames here in Oxfordshire, and saw dozens of squirrels busily laying down their winter stores.  As I walked I mused on how I would react if my path had been criss-crossed in the same way by another form of rodent – the rat.

Most of us find squirrels cute, and most of us are repelled by rats.  Yet, are they really that different?  Squirrels are seen as cute, rats are seen as pests and vermin.  Does the rat deserve this poor reputation, does the squirrel deserve the good one?

In the world of work, a similar dynamic can take place.  Companies, branded goods and even people can earn a certain reputation, and then it can stick for a long time.  We might see certain brands as desirable, or certain staff as promotion potential (both examples of squirrels with fluffy tails).  We might see other brands as unfashionable or undesirable, or other colleagues as “trouble” (both rats, to be feared and avoided).

What about you (either personally or your company)?  Are you a squirrell or a rat?  How do others see you/your brand?  What influences  that?  What is your equivalent of a fluffy tail?  What would make your customers, suppliers or team members see you as something better than a rat?

What about when you look at clients, customers or colleagues?  Do you see a squirrell or a rat?  Are you unfairly judging others – giving too much credit to those with fluffy tails and unduly recoiling from those without?  How can you be more open minded, to see both sides of the story?

Readers will know that my newsletters have two characteristics: obscure choices of topic (squirrels and rats? Obscure topic ticked!); and a focus on getting you to think about how you can be different as a result of reading the newsletter.  What can you take from my musings on rodents?

  • Honestly appraise how key stakeholders in your life, career or business are viewing you – squirrel  or rat?
  • When dealing with stakehodlers stop and reflect on how you have pigeon-holed them – are you seeing squirrels or rats?
  • If you are concerned that people are seeing you as a rat, not a cute squirrel, what would change that?
  • What actions can you take over Christmas to start to change those perceptions?
  • What habits can you develop in 2019 to keep you cute and fluffy, not scary and disease-ridden?
  • If you are a rat, and believe in Chinese philosophy, what can you do to be ready to make the most of 2020 being YOUR year?…

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