Friday, October 19, 2012

Wooly Bear Caterpillars

Wooly Bear Caterpillars

Last fall a farmer I know pointed out that there were way more apples on the trees than normal and he said that was a clear sign that it was going to be a long, hard winter.  Wrong – it was probably one of the mildest winters in history.

Last week a neighbor pointed out the brownish stripes on several wooly bear caterpillars:  a sure sign, he said, that it’s going to be a mild winter.  According to legend, the wider that middle brown section is, the milder the coming winter will be. Conversely, a narrow brown band is said to predict a harsh winter.  But who knows if that’s really true.

Throughout history there have been good years and bad, good winters and hard winters, more rain and less rain; people just accepted those things and took them in stride.  These days there’s a feeling that we need to make more sense out of things, but it’s not that simple because unfortunately there are no simple explanations for the complexities of life. There are still things like weather and human behaviors that have far too many variables to be explained simply.  But that doesn’t stop us from always looking to understand “why”.

I saw dozens of wooly bear caterpillars last week and to me it looked like their brownish strips were growing longer.  But we won’t know what that means until next spring when we look back and see what kind of winter it really was.  And that’s the way it is with most things.  Until then, I’ll just bundle up on the cold and rainy days, and turn my face to the sky on those days when the sun shines warmly.  And take each day as it comes!

My message this week is about innovation and how people make things better:

"Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Marie Steinem (born March 25, 1934) is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader of, and media spokeswoman for, the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s.

What do you dream about at work?  You should also be dreaming about the kinds of things that can help make what you’re doing to be easier and better. Everyone thinks that supervisors and process improvement specialists are the only ones who can do this, but the people doing the work, talking to the customers, touching the products, and delivering the services are the ones who have the experience and knowledge, and the best perspective, to know what’s really happening and whether improvements are needed.  They’re the ones who should be encouraged to imagine and recommend the exciting improvements that are possible, and to help determine what can be achieved.  That’s the best way to use your imagination and dreams today.  So, dream on!

Stay well!

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