Don’t worry. I’m not going to make a case for the intelligence of chickens. My own hens are pretty. They’re endearing. They lay great eggs. We consider them family pets.
But African grey parrots they’re not.
Still, while sitting on the back deck with my daughter this afternoon, I started noticing some chicken behavior that might hold lessons for us all. So herewith: The first-ever Top Ten List of Business EQ Tips You Can Learn From Chickens.
1) Think outside the coop
Chicken behavior Henrietta and Joy are squabbling over who gets to be in the nest box. Both hens clearly need to lay an egg. Both want to do it in the same box–despite the fact that there are three nest boxes available, as well as some nice spots in the straw. First one hen goes in the coveted box. Then the other goes in. Then the first one comes out, flapping and squawking. Then she goes back in and the second one comes out, all aflutter. Then the second goes in…and so on, and on, and on.
Gertrude, meanwhile, notices that my daughter and I are eating a snack on the porch. And Gertrude knows that if she cocks her head to one side and gives a sexy little growl, we can’t resist feeding her. So she waddles on over, utters her fetching little “brraawwwwww” and gets some toast.
Human Lesson: When everyone’s arguing over scarce supply (or demand) look around and see if you can get what you need elsewhere. Truly — lift your head, look around, and see if you might have success away from what Thomas Hardy called “The Madding Crowd.”
2) Some people never change
Chicken behavior: Every morning around 11 am, Gertrude tries to fly to the top of the coop roof. The roof, however, is made of blue metal. It’s really slippery (as I discovered when screwing it onto the coop frame…can you spell n-e-a-r-l-y f-e-l-l o-f-f t-w-i-c-e??) So every morning Gertrude lands about halfway up the roof, slides down, and lands — with a thunk and a squawk — on the ground.
Human lesson: One of the hardest things to do in life is accept that people won’t always stop doing the same-old, same-old behaviors, no matter how many times they hit their heads.
3) Generally speaking, the sky does not fall in
Chicken behavior: Chickens aren’t brave. They really do rush about squawking “The sky is falling in!” at the least little thing. Whether it’s a human raking out their coop, another hen sliding off the roof, or a dog snoring in the dirt, chickens whig out pretty easily.
Human lesson: Learn not to panic. Bad things happen. But it’s rarely a total disaster. Being able to handle stress or hardship is far healthier (mentally and physically) than falling apart all the time.
Part II:What we can learn from the pecking order, counting chicks, and egg production.