I’m in a peer advisory group with some other local business owners, and we have a saying that gets thrown around in our monthly meetings from time to time. The saying is “be the buffalo.”
Now for some context on the saying. Out in the West, in the open plains where buffalo roam and cattle herds graze, you can often see storm clouds take shape and form on the horizon hours before the storm actually reaches you. And here’s a fact about free-ranging cattle. When they see the storm clouds coming, they often turn and try to run away from the storm as it overtakes them. Unfortunately, by running away from the storm, they often prolong the amount of time they have to spend in the wind and the rain.
Conversely, when wild buffalo see the storm gathering on the horizon, they collectively turn and run directly into the storm. Ironically, by running straight into the storm they cut the amount of time they have to endure the storm significantly. Hence our beloved phrase:
Be the buffalo.
When we see conflict, confrontation, trial, hardship, and struggle forming on the figurative horizon, we encourage one another to lean into that coming storm. Face it head-on. Don’t run away from the struggle. It’ll only end up prolonging the issue. This principle is vital in the workplace.
Take for instance managing a client’s expectations. If I’m honest with myself, a lot of issues that have gotten blown up with a client didn’t happen because the problem popped up at the last second. We saw the situation forming, and instead of confronting it, we acted like the cattle and we tried to outrun it. This normally doesn’t work. But I’ve seen time and time again, when we choose to be the buffalo, things tend to work out just fine.
Storms are inevitable. Situations happen. Mistakes are made. Bad news doesn’t get better with time. Be the buffalo. Lean in. Embrace the challenge. Run headlong into the storm. And overcome.