What I Learned From The Platypus

PlatypusThroughout my career, I’ve relied on story telling to reinforce abstract concepts or make announcements more memorable. Whether it’s oxenelephants, monkeys, or camels, stories about animals are easy to remember and therefore more likely to be repeated. I’ve always want to tell a story which involved a platypus but I never really had a good rationale. A change in role provided me with an opportunity. Here’s the story I told:

Once upon a time, the Mammals, the Fish and the Birds all lived happily together. But after a while they began to quarrel. Each group thought it was the best and most important.

The Mammals held an all-hands meeting. The Kangaroo thumped the ground with her tail and shouted “We Mammals are the greatest! We are special. Only we have fur.”

“What about Platypus?” said the Deer. “He has fur.”

The other Mammals agreed and went to ask the Platypus if he would join them in their fight against the Fish and the Birds.

Platypus listened carefully and replied, “Thank you for asking me to be one of your family. I’ll think about it.”

A few days later, the Fish held a meeting. The Big Mouth Bass leapt out of the water and came down with an almighty splash. “We Fish are the greatest!” he shouted. “We are special. Only we can swim under water.”

“What about Platypus?” said the Cod. “He spends most of his life under water.”

The other Fish agreed and went to ask the Platypus if he would join them in their fight against the Mammals and the Birds.

Platypus listened carefully and replied, “Thank you for asking me to be one of your family. I’ll think about it.”

Finally, the Birds held a meeting. The Eagle spread and flapped his wings; the sound was like a tree falling. “We Birds are the greatest!” he shrieked. “We are special. Only we can lay eggs.”

“What about the female Platypus?” said the Dove. “She lays eggs.”

The other Birds agreed and went to ask the Platypus  if he would join them in their fight against the Mammals and the Fish.

Platypus listened carefully and replied. “Thank you for asking me to be one of your family. I’ll think about it.”

Platypus thought long and hard about what he should do. But no matter how hard he thought, he couldn’t be a part of just one group. At last, the Platypus knew what to do.

“I am a Mammal” he declared. The Mammals cheered. “But I am also a Bird and a Fish. I am not part of any of your groups. I am an Animal; I am part of all of them.”

The animals didn’t understand.

So Platypus went on, “Each of us, in our own way, is special. But special doesn’t mean better. None of us is better or worse than the other. Only different. We ought to respect each other’s differences, and live together without fighting.”

During my career I have had the chance to be part of many business “families”. Different companies and different roles. One lesson I have learned is that understanding different perspectives has allowed me to explore and exercise different parts of my own skills and personality. I’ve enjoyed my time as CMO and look forward to my next challenge. And I wish all of you continued success on your career journeys.

We will still be part of the same animal family.

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4 Responses to What I Learned From The Platypus

  1. Robert Holland November 23, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    If I’d known you were so interested in the platypus, I’m sure I could have helped come up with a rationale for a story years ago. ;^)

  2. Mark Baars December 2, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    You could also make a career shift and write fairy tales or educative books very inspiring and fun to read 🙂

  3. JoanneGaland December 2, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    Enjoyed your post. Interesting how it applies beyond the workplace. I found the Platypus words impactful in light of the tender situations happening around the world outside of work. “None of us is better or worse than the other. Only different. We ought to respect each other’s differences, and live together without fighting.”

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