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A Leadership Lesson From the Tale of Two Wolves

May 25, 2018


Being part Cherokee Indian has always sparked some sort of curiosity about their beliefs, and practices. Here is a great lesson in leadership from the tale of the two wolves.


An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:


“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.”It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."


He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”


The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”


You might have heard the story ends like this: The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”


In the Cherokee world, however, the story ends this way:


The old Cherokee simply replied, “If you feed them right, they both win.” and the story goes on:


“You see, if I only choose to feed the white wolf, the black one will be hiding around every corner waiting for me to become distracted or weak and jump to get the attention he craves. He will always be angry and still fight the white wolf. However, if I acknowledge him, he is happy, and the white wolf is happy, and we all win. For the black wolf has many qualities – tenacity, courage, fearlessness, strong-willed and excellent strategic thinking – that I have need of at times and that the white wolf lacks. However, the white wolf has compassion, caring, strength and the ability to recognize what is in the best interest of all.


"You see, son, the white wolf needs the black wolf at his side. To feed only one would starve the other and they will become uncontrollable. To feed and care for both means they will serve you well and do nothing that is not a part of something more significant, something good, something of life. Feed them both, and there will be no more internal struggle for your attention. Moreover, when there is no battle inside, you can listen to the voices of more profound knowledge that will guide you in choosing what is right in every circumstance. Peace, my son, is the Cherokee mission in life. A man or a woman who has peace inside has everything. A man or a woman who is pulled apart by the war inside him or her has nothing.


"How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both.”


–Cherokee Story


Now I ask you. Are you feeding both wolves, or is one hungry? I promise you, balance is going to set you up for success in both your personal, and professional life.

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