112912 beaver 1Our pond beaver continues to prepare for the winter up here at 8500 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains.

With temperatures below freezing each night, 95% of the pond’s surface has iced over. That presents a challenge for our beaver – one of survival.

Access to his (or her, we don’t know yet) lodge is below the water’s surface; predators cannot reach the beaver from above the waterline. It is critical for the beaver to keep the water nearest his lodge free from ice so he can have safe access to and from his home.

How does he do that? He spends hours each day, breaking down the ice near his lodge. He swims aggressively at the edge of the ice, and climbs up onto it, breaking off small pieces with each try. And he does it again, and again. His efforts ensure that his lodge is not iced in, which would seal off his home from air and food.

It’s a lot of work but he’s diligent. Survivors in the animal kingdom pay close attention to their environment at all times. If unsafe circumstances arise, they do their best to address them in the moment. It lets them live another day!

How Good is Your “Situational Awareness?”
112912 beaver 2

How closely do you pay attention to your work environment? We humans have a tendency to fall into habitual activities each day, doing our work without noticing what may be going on around us. Staying “still,” not evolving or growing or serving better, may be just as dangerous as the beaver’s lodge getting iced in.

“Existing” does not make one a valued partner. One must work hard to thrive – contributing, creating, solving, inventing – helping your team and company succeed in this global economy.

How will you do that? Consider asking yourself these questions regularly – and consider answering them for yourself often:

  • What do my internal and external customers need from me today that might be different than their needs yesterday?
  • What has changed or is changing right now in our marketplace or industry?
  • What is needed from me today to WOW my customers consistently for the next three months?
  • How might I adapt to serve more effectively and contribute more greatly in this moment?
  • What skills of mine are less valuable today due to emerging needs or practices or tools?
  • What skills do I need to build – soon – to remain a valued contributor on my team?

Only if you are willing to pay attention to the constantly evolving work place and marketplace will you be able to thrive – being of service, contributing strongly, and dazzling your customers.

Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. How do you stay aware, “in the moment,” of opportunities to contribute and serve? What changes do you see in your marketplace that represent an opportunity for you or your team to thrive?

There is still time to complete my #CoolCulture survey! Contribute your experiences in the Performance-Values Assessment. Further results and analysis will be shared on my blog site’s research page. Note that results will change as more respondents contribute to this database.

This new research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me to discuss conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your organization.

Photo © Chris Edmonds. All rights reserved.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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Reader Interactions


  1. AvatarSkip Prichard says

    Whenever I think I’m aware of everything around me, I know that’s when I’m heading for trouble because there are so many levels of “awareness”. Taking the time to ask others and get input helps with the blind spots. So does surrounding yourself with people who “see” things you don’t–strengths where you have weaknesses.

    And, Chris, please keep us posted on the beaver’s activities!

    • S. Chris EdmondsS. Chris Edmonds says

      You’re absolutely right, Skip. And, I LOVE your suggestion to surround yourself with “truth-tellers” who can broaden our perspective and help us understand unintended negative impact of our plans, decisions, and actions.
      The pond beaver has taken on mythical status – will definitely keep you all informed!


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