The Food Chain…Better Wake up Running!

“Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle… when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

                                            African Proverb

I have had several experiences with nature’s food chain from my childhood through adulthood. A few of them are as follows:

As a young curious boy I saw the back-end of a toad frog underneath some bushes in the grass. I grabbed him and was shocked when I pulled him out to find that the other end of the toad was on the inside of a snake’s mouth! I don’t recall what I did after that but I hope I saved the frog.

Twice as a teen fishing on Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, Florida I had my stringer of fish attacked by a snake. The first time I just pulled the stringer up from the side of our small boat to check the fish and the snake was hanging on one of them! The second time I parked the boat under an overpass to fish from the bank and saw the snake as we got out of the boat. Later, my stringer of fish that I had stuck in the sand on the bank started going back and forth. That darn snake had my fish!

Recently I took several men from out-of-state on a fishing trip on Lake Ola in Tangerine, Florida. We had gone through all of the jumbo shiners (bait) that I could buy from two different bait shops. The last trip to the bait shop I had to get smaller ones. When my friend got a hit and the rod bent over and we were sure it was a huge bass.

He fought for what seemed like a long time and when he finally landed the bass we discovered that there were actually two fish on the line. Apparently, a Crappie had gone for the smaller shiner only to be attacked himself by the larger bass.  My friend caught both of them!


The HighFive Your Life principle is competition for survival is real and we need to wake up running. We generally don’t have to wake up in the morning worrying about being eaten but we do have to wake up in the morning worrying about feeding and clothing our family. We wake up worrying about getting a good grade on a test or making a great presentation to our boss. We worry about the sales of our product and how the new competitor’s store down the street is going to affect our business. We worry about the weeds growing in our yard and garden, the weathering of our house, the loss of jobs to foreign countries. We worry about political races, about what is being taught to our children in schools. We cheer for our favorite sports team and are amazed when someone sets a new record or pitches a no-hitter.

Competition is real and is all around us. We are somewhere on the food chain. We may want to remove ourselves from it but for most of us, that is improbable. More likely is the prospect of just learning how to deal with it. In so doing we want to avoid the extremes where, either the stresses of your life are so high that you begin to dysfunction, or the other end of the spectrum where you just adopt an “I don’t care attitude”.

Because we do care and we want to succeed in achieving personal goals, we need to answer several questions about ourselves:

  1. How badly do I want the prize? Is it worth the pain and struggle to get it? Am I willing to work hard enough to get it? How many of my 80 years of life am I willing to trade to achieve it?
  2. Is it what I really need? Is it a selfish goal or prize? How will my sacrifices to get it affect those I love around me? Is it in their best interest for me to achieve it?
  3. Is the goal realistic or at least somewhere on the planet achievable? Do I have the skills required to get it or can I reasonably expect to develop those skills sufficient to get it?
  4. Have I considered what is most important in my life? Have I reviewed that priority list recently?
  5. If I do not achieve my goal, is all lost? Are there other talents or things that also might be important to pursue?
  6. Is the achievement of this goal improving or hurting humanity?

Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

The fact that we live in a competitive world that has limited resources requires that we make sure that we are not sitting on a log somewhere waiting to be fed. We need to get up in the morning running. However, we need to make sure that our personal goals and ambitions are based in reality and take into account the people and world around us. It is possible to achieve our personal goals in such a way that society as a whole benefits.

Can you imagine how the world would be if each of our personal goals had a direct or indirect positive impact on the world? What if your goal was to find the cure to cancer and you were succesful? Would the world be happy? Of course! What if your goal was to play a musical instrument or sing professionally and you achieved your goal? Would the world be happy? Of course! if we set and achieve personal goals we have done a very good thing. If we structure our goals such that our personal successes also help humanity we have taken it to a new level…we have done a great thing.

In fact, this ability to set altruistic goals…goals that take into account somebody else’s life ahead of one’s own, is the one thing that is not contemplated by the seemingly eat or be eaten harsh law of competition and nature. Though we do compete, we are different from the lion and gazelle in Africa. Sometimes we defy nature and actually sacrifice our time, energy and effort to help out the other guy…we actually want the other guy to win…and in so doing we change the zero sum game of nature…the win or lose law of the jungle…we create a new paradyme…we create “win-win” and elevate the cause of humanity.

The HighFive Your Life Principle: Competition is real and we need to wake up running. We can achieve our personal goals in a way that also improves society as a whole.

 Please share stories from your life regarding this principle. If you would like to follow the weekly blog, please press the “follow” prompt. Thank you for keeping your comments appropriate for all readers.

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