I Like Goats
I don’t know about you, but I am rather fond of goats. They are independent creatures, intelligent and make up their own minds about things. They can also be very productive. There is a goat farm in Tobago that produces the best goat cheese in the known universe…at least in my known universe. But I have no intention of telling anyone where to find it because it is already hard enough to get the cheese. You have to know somebody who knows somebody who has probably been on the list for a decade and really owes you a favour and so is grudgingly willing to share some of what they managed to get with you. These productive goats are, of course, well cared for, well fed and disciplined.
Goats, of course can also be destructive. Not from malice, unlike some people you know, but because they are curious, intrusive and not afraid to go where their inquisitiveness leads. They are naturally disciplined and careful about their young, feeding and sheltering them and teaching them survival skills that they themselves learned. I will never forget until I die and maybe not even after that, a magnificent Billy Goat that used to live in St James. Probably before you were born. He used to majestically and imperiously stop traffic as he led his troupe, a Nanny goat or two and a passel of kids, across George Cabral Street to graze in the cemetery. No one had to tell him what to do. He led his group in a careful, protective and confident way. He exuded authority without words, without shouting, by example. And every car stopped respectfully
I think I was a little in love with him from a distance, and certainly considerably in awe of the way he handled his supervisory responsibilities. And just from watching him, I learned a lot about how management works.
Along with a very special goat called Gilbert, he was the inspiration for the small book called The Goat’s Guide to the Principles of Natural Justice that has been published lately by PMSL Ltd. You probably have to know somebody who knows somebody who works there to get a copy, but if you are in charge of people who are responsible for supervising other people and you want to keep away from trade disputes and out of the Ministry of Labour and the Industrial and Divorce Courts, it may be worth the effort to get to know somebody who can get you a copy.
Managing other people, whether at the level of teacher, trainer, medical specialist, supervisor, manager, Managing Director, parent, coach or community leader is one of the most difficult jobs there is, because each person you manage is different, has different needs and reacts differently to what supervisors do and say. That is why people who do it get paid more, (except for parents, of course, but they get the biggest piece of chicken at Sunday dinner) and why, if they don’t do it effectively, all hell can break loose and confusion ensues. Strikes happen, work gets spoiled, students don’t learn, patients don’t get well and families and relationships break up.
One of the things that The Goat’s Guide talks about is the importance of discipline. You aren’t born with it. Someone who has been taught it themselves and also has learned how to teach it to others has to teach it to young ones, and we have lately been witnessing what happens to societies where parents are too young, not present, or too ignorant of how to pass it on as, quite possibly, no one ever taught them. It also is evident in work situations where people simply were never taught the skills of how to manage other people. And on into community, domestic lives and wider political areas where the skills and principles of persuasion, communication and Natural Justice and how to administer them are so important. So, people resort to violence, either verbal or physical, often out of anger and frustration because they have never been taught any other way. Sometimes violence works, as we all have seen and experienced in our own lives. Fear can motivate people. Mainly how to get out of the way. How to avoid the things that bring on the violence. But it never, never leads to true relationships of intimacy equality and /or the kind of bonding that results in true teamwork. That is why international coaches of championship teams regularly get fired when they cannot build the team relationships that lead to winning performances. And why some small companies thrive and are profitable or stick together through lean times until they succeed, and why others, even those driven by the genuinely determined desperation of entrepreneurs who have staked their all but do not know how to manage the people who work for them but not with them, go under.
Even goats, when they are born, have to learn and they learn because other, older goats in the flock know how to teach them, and they are willing to learn.
I like goats.