With homage to a Cherokee legend of the black wolf and the white wolf
We often think about big goals—to take the company public, to get a C-suite title, to keynote at the leading industry conference. These are important. They are big sweeping visions that shape the direction of our lives and careers. Yet equally important to these touchstone goals are the tiny choices we make every single day.
This past weekend I had the privilege of spending time with wolves at a spiritual retreat. My teacher had brought us to visit his non-profit organization—The Wolf Connection— focused on empowering at-risk youth and rescuing wolfdogs. Watching and feeling the energy of these majestic creatures helped me deeply experience of each minute in their presence. It helped to balance out both the big questions as well as stay in the moment and become aware of the tiny choices we make each day.
Which Wolf will Win?
There’s a Native American legend, I believe that it’s Cherokee, which I’ve heard multiple times and am now retelling with creative license.
A grandmother is talking with her granddaughter. The conversation is happening outside under a blanket of stars by the light of a flickering campfire. The grandmother tells the girl: “There is a continual fight happening inside me. It is a fierce fight between two wolves. One is the black wolf. She is arrogance, shame, envy, perfectionism, and over-confidence. There is also a white wolf. She is joy, love, compassion, forgiveness, wonder, and humility. The two wolves continue to fight inside me. The same fight is happening inside you and within every single person.”
The girl listens thoughtful then asks her grandmother, “Which wolf will win?”
You may have heard a version of this story where the grandmother replies, “The one you feed.”
I’ve heard a different ending to the story. Perhaps it’s from the Cherokee world, perhaps it’s from my re-claiming or appropriation as I can’t find the source. Or perhaps it’s a dreaming up of my own answer.
The grandmother replies, “If you feed them right, they both win. If you only feed the white wolf, the black one goes into hiding. She is suppressed, pushed down, and ignored. She will jump up and…