Choose one—would you rather have a defined and secure territory, safety from predators, and scheduled meals; or would you prefer an evolving and uncertain territory, being a part of a dynamic food chain and always needing to be on the hunt for your own food? If you chose the first scenario you identify more with zoo animals, and if you chose the second you identify more with wild animals. And this obviously speaks to where you end up living – in a zoo or in the wild.
After running my own business for ten years after having worked for others for 7 years, I feel like I went from something quite like a zoo to something much more like the wild. In fact my brother Marty and I, the co-founder of The Butler Bros, really connected deeply with this analogy when we uncovered it.
It made me recall this passage from the “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel:
One might even argue that if an animal could choose with intelligence, it would opt for living in a zoo, since the major difference between a zoo and the wild is the absence of parasites and enemies and the abundance of food in the first, and their respective abundance and scarcity in the second. Think about it yourself. Would you rather be put up at the Ritz with free room service and unlimited access to a doctor or be homeless without a soul to care for you?
Comfort is in fact what’s at play here. And when you get overly comfortable, you get a bit numb to yourself. When you expect a carcass to come flying over the fence you lose some of your hunting instincts. When you know your territory is 100% secure you sleep a little deeper but somehow fail to dream. Add all of this up and it translates to a dimming of your senses and a suppression of your wild, instinctual, self. Your ingenious self.
This isn’t a referendum on being an employee versus an employer or entrepreneur. It’s more of a meta-observation about what happens when you never leave your zoo. Or never let your people leave the zoo you’ve built for them, whichever the case may be.
It’s also not an indictment of where you choose to ‘live’. Because getting out of the zoo is literally as simple as walking out the door with the intention of being open to what you see outside. Step through the threshold of your proverbial cage to discover inspiration in places you never knew existed. Bring it back and share this fresh sustenance with others. It will feed them too. They will grow stronger from it. And you can howl together.