Ever Feel Like a Pigeon Sometimes?

Whether you are in the workplace or in your personal life, do you ever feel like a pigeon sometimes?  What exactly does this mean, you might ask?

If you are an information and knowledge junkie, you probably have an insatiable thirst to know and learn more.  You don’t just want to know when decisions are made, but why they are made.  Yes, you probably have your hands in alot of different places, and juggling multiple projects at any one time, but you are never satisfied.

Feeling like a pigeon occurs when you rely on others for the scraps of information that are being thrown down to you, hoping that each morsel will fill you up.  Pigeons will hang out around beings (usually humans) that can satisfy the pigeons need for food, and ultimately satisfaction.  Pigeons, when they can not obtain satisfaction in one location, they move to another location, hoping to have the desires satisfied.

As humans, our morsels of food are the nuggets of “why” things occur.  If you are in an organization where decisions are made by those disconnected from the processes and drivers, you are probably shaking your head thinking, “what were they thinking”?  Sooner or later you either become complacent and settle for mediocrity, or you decide to take action and move locations where hopefully your desires can be satisfied.  The thing about pigeons though, they never stop trying.  They will continue to come around, until a piece of bread is thrown their way.  The human thinks that the pigeon is satisfied, however, the satisfaction is only temporary, the pigeon will undoubtedly return for more.

As leaders, we need to expect that our teams have this desire to know why decisions are made, and it is up to us to keep feeding that need.  Teams and individuals understand confidentiality, they don’t understand secrecy. 

Feed the need, and productivity will take seed.  Don’t give teams and individuals a reason to look elsewhere for their morsels, because the outcome will usually not be what you ultimately want. 

How about you?  Do you ever feel like a pigeon?

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12 thoughts on “Ever Feel Like a Pigeon Sometimes?

  1. Hi Mark, what struck me while I was reading you article is that human beings have a lot of trouble both in three areas: 1. understanding those morsels of information2. assimilating them into cohesive, rational thinking3. organizing all the data into a greater 'picture'. For example, scientists have learned a lot over the last 50 years, haven't they? Yet school textbooks remain basically the same, dont' they? With all that new knowledge, shouldn't there have been a major shift in teachable knowledge in schools? And yet, it hasn't happened. Interesting, isn't it?

  2. David – It is very interesting. What amazes me the most is that critical thinking is the area that is least developed in most middle and high schools. It's all about test scores and finding a way to keep teachers "accountable". Thank you for your comment!

  3. I'm not sure that I would think of knowledge seekers as pigeons – not being a big fan of pigeons – but a big fan of knowledge seekers. 🙂 We want curious employees, it reflects engagement and interest in the work of the organization. Sharing knowledge is generally a good way to keep them engaged and grow the overall insight and intelligence of the organization. There is a line between confidentiality and secrecy and it's not that thin of a line, but somehow it frequently gets blurred.

  4. What a great analogy. I agree with you. We used to call it the mushroom mentality, "Keep them in the dark and feed them s**t" It wasn't a nice saying but it did reflect an attitude that wasn't healthy. Information is power and should be used wisely bit NOT sparingly. 🙂

  5. Good post, Mark. This is precisely why I left corporate life 20 years ago. we were only fed bits of info that the higher ups deemed necessary. And our ability to make decisions was greatly hampered by executives that felt they had to be involved in EVERY decision. A very unhealthy environment. I now happily am responsible for every decision that is made on behalf of my work and business and love it.

  6. I'm fortunate, I work for myself as a ghostwriting, so I don't have them syndrome. I do a lot of research on my own and can gather information to make the decisions I need to make. I don't think I'd last long in the 9-5 world!

  7. The title of this article is very intriguing. It caught my attention and immediately made me want to continue reading. I think this is a great metaphor and really brings the issue to light in a clear and understanding way.

  8. Teaching always made me feel like a pigeon in that a teacher's expertise largely gets disregarded in the grand scheme of "doing school." There is little thought given to how to keep teachers engaged and professionally fulfilled, and so I imagine turn-over rate will continue to crumble.

  9. The corporate world is one with many analogies. I have heard of Susan's mushroom mentality often. There are often a few who break out of their pigeon suit and become beautiful song birds that take charge. These people are few and far between but they are there.

  10. Even in small business you're told that this is how things are but when they try to explain the whys you're even more lost. But at least you're not always the only one.

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