Paul Butler | Little birds & big people at work

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

What do little birds and big humans in the workplace have in common? Well, from my window, they demonstrate so many similarities. Let’s take a walk around the garden together and see what we can observe and hopefully learn. 

Regardless of breed, the birds are certainly talking. Their constant chirping seems sweet, although if you listen very carefully, you can discern pitches and tones that appear more aggressive. It’s as if they’re telling others to stay away from their food, their perch, or their preferred place. 

Isn’t that so like us at work? Many different people, different ages, different cultures with various prior experiences. Diverse people, toiling and troubling the soil to fight for our daily bread, by the sweat of our brow. 

As humans, sometimes we’re sweet to each other, yet sadly, most times we’re not. We often stick together in the workplace based on some external facet outside our control — be it race, gender, age or prior employment — pecking and picking at others not like us. Wouldn’t you have thought we’d have grown out of this when we flew the nest of high school? 

My wife and I derive much pleasure from watching the birds — they seem unaware that we’re the Great Givers. It’s actually us who provide the seeds they search for, and yet when we open the window, they scatter — scared of who, and what we are. 

Likewise, it fascinates me that in the garden of the workplace, most people leave organizations because they dislike the boss who often was the one who gave them their job. Most employees are envious of entrepreneurs who employ them — losing sight of the fact that if it weren’t for that person who created the business and the job they now work in, they’d be searching for sustenance elsewhere. 

When the seed containers and water receptacles are empty, we fill them up. We know we have more to give and there’s more to come, yet the birds don’t. If you listen carefully, you can hear through their chirpiness a type of panic that it may all run out today, and yet, miraculously, it doesn’t. 

It always amazes me to consider that the global unemployment rate runs at just 6%. To me, this means that for all those who want to work, they can. Closer to home in our own garden of the United States, those looking for work average about 4% of the working population. And yet, even for those, the Great Giving Government provides enough seed by way of unemployment benefits and other social support mechanisms to ensure they don’t go hungry. What a miraculous garden we all live and work in — there’s no need for us to fuss and fight over seed and water. 

Recently, a business associate of mine posted on her social media about a large number of layoffs within her corner of the garden — a multinational entertainment company that had decided to do some pruning of the bushes. Thousands of employee birds had no choice but to fly away immediately due to their “at-will” arrangements with those who own the garden. 

What I found remarkable reading through the responses to her post was that although some birds had already found and flown to a new place that served daily seed, there were others who were complaining that their seed had been taken away and just seemed to be perched there waiting to be fed again. Trouble is, this garden is now desolate.  

Various people swooped in socially and were kindly offering to help find other gardens for people to fly to and bring their talents with them. Some were chirpy and were already migrating, whereas others seemed to want to just sit there and complain that people owed them seed, seemingly unaware there was no more seed for them in that particular garden. 

Yes, we can indeed learn much about the similarities between our garden atop the mountain they call magic and the gardens of the workplace. It seems that little birds and big people do have much in common. 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].  

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS