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Published:September 10th, 2007 15:01 EST
The Cheetahs are Coming! The Cheetahs are Coming!

The Cheetahs are Coming! The Cheetahs are Coming!

By Simon Bailey (Mentor/Columnist)

I’ve been thinking a lot about cheetahs and hippos recently.

No, I didn’t visit the zoo. I listened to an online presentation given by distinguished Ghanaian economist George Ayittey (pronounced I-yit-tey) who is in residence at American University in Washington, D.C. In his presentation, Ayittey stated that the future of Africa rests on the shoulders of the emerging Cheetah Generation rather than the current Hippo Generation. He then went on to describe the Cheetahs as a new breed of Africans who take their future into their own hands and don’t wait to be empowered by government. The Hippos, in Ayittey’s opinion, have ruined postcolonial Africa. He describes them as stuck, lazy, slow, ornery, complacent and greedy.

Well, as you can imagine, I was intrigued by Ayittey’s passionate and inspired description of an emerging generation that will forever change the face of Africa. Something leaped inside of me as I thought about my country, The United States of America. I wondered, how many people – in both the current and emerging generations – see themselves as Cheetahs? By now, I’m sure you’re wondering why the reference to cheetahs. What makes them so fantastic?

The cheetah is indeed a truly amazing animal. According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the cheetah is the swiftest land mammal on the planet and can reach speeds of 70 mph in mere seconds. It covers 20 to 25 feet in a single stride, with only one foot touching the ground at a time. In fact, at two points in the stride, none of its feet touch the ground! However, what most fascinates me about this protected species that lives primarily in Africa are its unique physical characteristics:

  • Flexible spine;
  • Oversized liver;
  • Enlarged heart;
  • Wide nostrils;
  • Increased lung capacity;
  • Black “tear" marks under its eyes.

For just a moment, reflect on the characteristics of the cheetah, and how they relate to humans:

Flexibility is the key quality of all globalization and Life 2.0. As you encounter and experience change personally and professionally, can you mimic the cheetah? Can you contract, expand, bend and turn in any direction? Increase your personal productivity in business by being flexible in your decision making and moving swiftly to meet the needs of your external and internal customers. If you don’t, they will find someone else to do it for them.

The liver has an almost miraculous ability to biochemically transform virtually any chemical it’s exposed to. It breaks down, stores and eliminates toxins and produces beneficial chemicals the body needs in order to function. The cheetah’s oversized liver is a crucial component in its highly efficient and effective physiological system. How about you? Is transformation a part of your daily language and consciousness? Are you able to transform yourself so that you can efficiently and effectively adapt to any given situation? Never be satisfied with the status quo. Instead, be a seeker of the unknown and commit to ongoing transformation.

While an enlarged heart pumps more blood to give the cheetah its speed and power, an enlarged human heart overflows with abundance and seeks to give rather than receive, to serve rather than be served. Enlarge your heart and infuse those around you with your spirit of optimism. Infuse your community with a spirit of service. Infuse your business culture with a “can do" attitude.

How big is your nose? Smile! Having wide nostrils is in vogue. Why? It means that you can pick up on the scent of opportunity and the smell possibility. Sense where things are heading and make split-second course corrections that will take you into the future. Improvise and innovate. Stop waiting for someone to give you the green light. Don’t wait for someone else to do your heavy lifting. You have to make something happen for yourself.

The cheetah strategically stalks its prey. It carefully maneuvers into a position to pounce and then gives chase with a burst of blinding speed made possible by its increased lung capacity. Are you methodically stalking what you want? Are you expanding your capacity so that when the time is right, you can muster the speed and the skill to give chase and capture your dreams? Expand your capacity by improving yourself one day at a time. Identify the cheetahs in your life and learn from them. Do what is in front of you with all your might. Take on what you have rejected in the past for what you will become in the process.

You may be wondering about the black “tear" marks which run from the inside corner of the cheetah’s eyes down the sides of the nose to the outside of its mouth. Their purpose is to keep the sun out of its eyes to aide in hunting. How do you keep the sun – i.e., distractions – out of your eyes so that you can stay focused on your heart’s desire? Ignore the naysayers and Brilliance Blockers. Rid yourself of all excuses that prevent you from stepping into your brilliance. Accept personal responsibility for where you are and how you think.

The Cheetahs are coming – into your organization, your community, your social circle – and they are hungry, focused and willing to step up. Will you be one of them?

If you’re not one already, decide today to become a cheetah. Move it…Move it…Get to it! If you don’t, you will forever stare at the rear end of a Hippo!

Simon Believes…Hippos will soon be obsolete. Cheetahs are the future.

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