Ostrich don't really stick their head in the sand. Why should you?

OstrichSuperstorm Sandy filled our lives for months following the devastation. This blog post isn't about Sandy. It is about the not-so-amazing human trait of sticking our heads in the sand. First, the facts: Ostrich do not stick their heads in the sand. It is a myth. But we've grown accustomed to using it as a metaphor for avoidance. So I'll keep up with tradition as faulty as it may be. For many of us on Long Island, Sandy meant an average of two-weeks without power. Beyond just property damage, living in substandard conditions was no picnic, not to mention those trying to run a business.

The reason we were without power were fallen trees and utility poles. Saying it was no picnic is the understatement of the year. No one wants to relive this ordeal. I travel on the road, home to the leaning-utility-pole below for months following the Storm. I am on this road everyday. There are homes on either side of the road and for a stretch of a mile or so, all homes are connected to this pole. The leaning-utility-pole is there to remind us, on a daily basis, that sometimes and too often, reality can stare us in the face and we just refuse to accept it.

leaningpoleI don't know about you, but this pole does not look straight or steady to me. What it looks like is that a lesser storm than Sandy is going to topple this pole and spell misery to hundreds of residents along this road. This pole means business. Everyone is connected to it.

So what do the residents of the home whose lawn houses this pole think about everyday when they go to work? The good news? Yes, it is leaning away from their house. The bad news? It is an important pole, it is taking the neighborhood down with it.

Is this the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand? You bet. And here's an interesting true fact about the Ostrich: It never stick around to protect its eggs (which are buried deep in the ground). With the first sign of danger, it will run like hell. This is how nature planned it for the Ostrich. Run at 40 MPH away from the eggs. No one is catching up to it. It's a win-win for the Ostrich and the eggs.

How many leaning poles do you have in your business? Are you acting on the warning signs or hope that nothing happens? We can think of numerous examples like: Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Is your IT infrastructure truly protected? Can you be up-and-running in a few hours to connect your business to your customers? What if your key sales person leaves, or worse? Do you have redundancies in your business, including your own role to ensure continuity?

When asked about your marketing ROI do you know the facts or are you staring at a leaning pole hoping that nothing happens?

The Ostrich knows how to do one thing when it is threatened: run and distract predators from its eggs.  Unfortunately, running away isn't how we are wired. All we have to do is walk or look the other way. There are always much more important things than what has been staring us in the face like running to a meeting, pointing fingers or planning a vacation.

The Ostrich wins. Humans choosing to run or look away rarely do.