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The Story With the Tiger


Several years there was a best-selling novel called The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It’s a tale of a man who is the sole survivor of a shipwreck and gets lost in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger in it. Strange and incredible events happen until he lands on a shore in Mexico. The tiger jumps off the boat and runs off into the woods. The man is discovered, barely alive, and put in a hospital.


Two Japanese insurance inspectors arrive to conduct an inquiry into the shipwreck. He tells them the story.


They huddle together and say, "We think that maybe your story isn't true. And that there was no tiger."


And so our narrator tells them a different story of how he survived, one grim and gruesome and representing the worst of humanity.


And he asks, "Which story do you like better? The story with the tiger or the story without the tiger?"


The men confer again and they say, "Actually we like the story with the tiger better."

Whereupon our narrator starts to cry and says, "Thank you."


So we like the story with the tiger better. It’s more human, it represents what we want, it gives us a model and inspiration of what can be.


I think this is the story of conscious leadership.


Conscious leadership invites people to operate with high levels of self-awareness, curiosity and integrity. It’s about leading by design rather than leading by default. It’s about wanting to go beyond just making a buck to making a broader and deeper impact.


You always have a choice: do you like the story with the tiger or without it? Do you like to lead by design or by default?


If, like us, you’re interested in leadership with the tiger in it, and you want to make a broader and deeper impact in your professional life or organization, we invite you to join our community. Contact Julianna or Nancy for a call. Attend an upcoming Lead by Design leadership retreat. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.


This blog was inspired a Bill Moyers interview with Margaret Atwood and a conversation with Anna McGrath and Julianna Christie about being rigorously all-in.