Survival: A Perspective of Success

This morning I watched with interest a small drama of nature play out between two predators and their intended prey.

Attached to the lower portion of a tree, a clever spider had spun a silken trap. Caught inside the web several feet off the ground, I could see a small, white moth struggling to get free. It flapped its wings several times, but it was unable to break loose. Then a new character entered the scene. From nowhere, a robin appeared. The robin positioned itself just under the moth and, with a few flaps of its wings, caught enough air to rise up to the level of the white wings. And just that quickly, the robin secured an easy meal.

Success follows different formulas. Spiders are planners. They understand the environment in which they live, and they build webs in strategic locations, ones with maximum bug traffic. After spending hours  constructing a perfect web, spiders sit back and wait for the payoff.

The robin reserves its planning for nest building. Its eating habits, though, are more opportunistic. They feed on worms that are drawn to the surface following a rain. In suburbia, they feed off the auspices of the many bird feeders within their territories. And sometimes they capitalize on insects that get caught in webs by beating the spiders to the prize.

Some people succeed because of planning and hard work. They excel in school, and then set out to find jobs with organizations that value what they have to offer. Once employed, they create a 5 and a 10-year plan, and they lock-in new goals as they progress. Strong planning along the way gives them a measure of security and easy living.

Others succeed because they know how to take advantage of an opportunity when it comes their way. Perhaps they don’t have long term plans in the traditional sense, and they seem more likely to make things up as they go along. But once they spy a prize, they don’t stop until they have it within their grasp. They stay in motion in pursuit of the next big thing.

Spider-people think and plan ahead of time and then sit back to enjoy the fruits–or bugs–of their labors. Conversely, robin-people hustle when they see opportunities, and they aren’t afraid to spread their wings to pursue a goal.

Be happy for both the spider and the robin. They are equally equipped to survive using very different skills. But in truth, spider-people don’t care for bird-people. They decry the haphazard approach of the bird-people, and they resent that fact that bird-people thrive even without a well thought out plan for each phase of life. And spider-people fear that they may someday be eaten by the bird-people.

But bird-people don’t seem to notice. They are too busy chasing down the next opportunity to fret about who has a better life plan. If bird-people wasted any time at all thinking about such matters, they would likely be grateful for three things. First, they are happy they can take to the air should they need to find greener pastures. Second, they are pleased that they are not like the moth, stuck with no avenues of escape. And third, they are overjoyed that few people actively try to smash them with a wadded up magazine.

Are you a spider? Or a bird?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    Ah, I am a retired spider and born-again scrapping bird. Love this blog and the metaphor! Thanks Scott

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