why do whitetail deer have white tails?

why do whitetail deer have white tails?

I asked this question of a workshop I facilitated at work. The topic was continual change. Our worlds evolve. We evolve with them or we become irrelevant, especially in a service organization. My job is in public service. My boss is the great American animal loving public. You might ask, “Eric, you work in government, isn’t that pretty static?”  Good question, thanks for asking.  In fact it’s not. The head of our department (Health and Human Services or HHS when you are in the biz), Kathleen Sebelius, suddenly resigned her post as secretary of HHS. Our Center just persuaded drug sponsors to discontinue feeding antibiotics to food animals solely to increase production. Just to name two recent changes.

Back to the workshop, we talked about how our environment is in constant flux.  If we are to remain relevant, we have to monitor to these changes and accommodate them. In his book, “The Advantage”, Patrick Lencioni discusses the value of being “addicted to relevance.” I get this query in my Organization Development capacity, “why do our colleagues leaving us out of the process? It’s right there in the procedures manual, after the first division reviews it, it is supposed to come to our division.” So I ask the question, “Why would they want to come to you? What value do you bring?”

Daniel Pink’s new book, “To Sell Is Human” says we are all always selling. Not necessarily commercial selling, although that is certainly true. We also persuade and influence our colleagues, our mates, our progeny, our neighbors, and the like. You have a perspective and you want others to see what you see. “You should vote Nan Rich for Florida governor, she is a candidate of the people, she believes in equal pay, better education, and other causes that I believe in…”  The reasons I give to vote for my candidate must be relevant to you or you will not be persuaded.

Have you figured out why deer’s tails are white yet? The answers I got from the class were because of evolution, because their forebears had white tails, to attract a mate, and more. The reason that the deer’s white tail perpetuates is because it offers a survival advantage. What might that be and what does that have to do with this blog? Deer, like bunnies, use their white tail to draw attention to their back end when being preyed upon. By having a dramatic flash of white in an attack, the predator is drawn to the place that the deer was, not the place where it is going.  When the predator lunges at the shiny, glittering white tush, the prey is long gone.  If its face was white, the predator would lunge at its head, miss, and get the torso; still a success for the predator.  When you are addicted to relevance, focus on where the deer is going, not to where it was.

Albert Einstein supposedly said, “I am more interested in the future than the past because the future is where I intend to live.”  What are you focused on?


About cowsaretheanswer

executive coach, organization development, large animal veterinarian
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