When reading a past issue of O Magazine (June 2010), I stumbled across an article by Donna Brazile. In it, she talked about the smartest advice she ever received. Although the entire article was noteworthy, I wanted to share two of the stories that really stuck with me.
Be the buffalo
Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it—and gets through it quicker. Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo.
There have been times in my life when I have either put off or spent considerable effort trying to avoid an uncomfortable moments. Whether I was fearful, insecure or simply dreading the interaction, I avoided it. In time I learned that all I did was prolong the journey and ultimately the lesson. You see….there is no way to avoid the truth. Hold your head up, stand strong and lean into it. It may sting a bit but you will make it though.
Ask the turtle
I’m proud to call Gloria Steinem a friend, and this advice came from her. While on a field trip in college with her geology class, she discovered a giant snapping turtle that had climbed out of the river, up a dirt path, right to the edge of a road. Worried it would soon be run over, she wrestled the enormous reptile off the embankment and back down to the water. At that moment, her professor walked up and asked what in the world she was doing. With some pride, she told him. He said that the turtle had probably spent a month crawling up that long dirt path to safely lay its eggs in the mud on the side of the road and that she had destroyed all that effort with her “rescue.” Gloria tells this story to illustrate the most important political lesson she ever learned: Always ask the turtle.
I absolutely LOVED this story. It is a great reminder that what we see as success or a need for someone may be completely different from what they desire. As a born helper, I find myself constantly jumping up and trying to assist when I can. Often, I fail to ask if help is really needed. After this reminder, I am going to remind myself to communicate and ask the turtle before I make a move!