Which Wolf Will You Feed?

Which wolf, you say? You may be wondering if you’ve mistakenly stumbled upon a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood, but fear not – you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Yes, I am talking about wolves, but these wolves come from a traditional Cherokee story:

An old Cherokee was 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?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

If you’re wondering what this has to do with leadership, life or law, consider a few ways the question – Which wolf will you feed? – is such an important question to ask and answer.

First, the Cherokee story is directly applicable to questions about your personal journey in life. How you choose to live and impact others in your life is most importantly a question of which wolf you feed. In many ways, this relates to the perspectives you choose to have about life, situations and circumstances. For example, do you choose to see life through a positive lens (finding the learning, humor or joy) or a negative lens “the sky is falling,” things never work out, life is a bitch)? Do you choose to fill up your mind with uplifting and thought provoking information or with negative junk? Do you invest your time with people who support, challenge and inspire you or with people who speak negativity, drama and judgment? These are all choices and each choice feeds one of the wolves.

Second, in your business, law and leadership world the wolf analogy is equally applicable, with perhaps different connotations or circumstances (although I could make a compelling argument that the two wolves are just as directly applicable to business as they are to your personal life). Consider the ways you interact with the people you work with, including clients. Do you choose to see them as a gift and blessing to be respected with gratitude or as necessary evils to be tolerated? Do you choose to go through your work day focused on what’s working or on what’s not working? Do you choose to focus on the short list of things that you truly control or do you stress over things over which you have little or no control? As in your personal life, every choice feeds one of the wolves.

What you also must understand, though, is this simple truth – which wolf you feed is important, but just as important is how you feed the wolf. Specifically, you don’t feed the wolf with your words or thoughts (what you say, what you plan to do, or what you need to do). The choice of wolves comes from one thing – your actions. You pick a wolf with your choices and your actions, not your talk. For example, saying that you are a positive person, but demonstrating a scarcity mentality in your actions. Or, saying that your team members are important, but treating them as mere cogs that exist to serve you. In the end, the wolves are fed by the choices you make and that you put into action (not the words you say or philosophies you claim to embrace).

Today and every day before today, you’ve chosen a wolf to feed based upon your collective actions. Which wolf you choose tomorrow will depend on the choices you make and the actions you take as evidence of those choices.

Which wolf will you choose? Which wolf will others see in you and from you? Which wolf will lead the way in your journey of law, life and leadership? As always, choose (and act) wisely!

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