I have no idea why, but a couple of my favorite quotes involve tigers, and they both offer lessons that I think about quite often.
Chris Rock does a few comedy routines that not only make me laugh, but they also make me think.
One of my favorites starts with him talking about Siegfried and Roy — the Las Vegas act famous for working with dangerous cats until Roy was injured by a white tiger in 2003. Rock says, “Siegfried and Roy, the tiger bit the man and everybody’s mad at the tiger! They talk about ‘The tiger went crazy!’
“That tiger didn’t go crazy,” he says. “That tiger went tiger!”
Rock explains that the tiger was crazy when he was “riding around on a little bike with a Hitler helmet on,” not when he bit Roy.
It’s something to think about. What’s the true nature of someone (you or me) or something (your store, your fishery, your market)? I invariably get into trouble when I think of something the way I want it to be rather than the way it really is.
I’ll bet you’ve done it, too. Have you ever been “surprised” at something someone did even though you’ve watched them do it a hundred times before? Why were you “surprised”? Was it because you had no reason to expect it or was it because you wanted a different outcome?
I’ll bet it was the latter.
We’d all do ourselves a favor by seeing things the way they repeatedly reveal themselves to be rather than the way we want or expect them to be.
My other favorite tiger quote came from former NFL standout turned ubiquitous television personality, Michael Strahan. If you’ve turned on a television in the past five years, you’ve seen Strahan. He’s everywhere!
In 2014, Strahan was on the ballot for the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a 15-season career as a defensive lineman with the New York Giants. He was on two Super Bowl-winning teams, recorded more than 140 sacks and played in seven Pro Bowls. In short, he was pretty much a lock for Hall of Fame honors. The only question was whether he’d be voted in on the first ballot.
Another defensive great — Warren Sapp — had been voted in a year earlier. He had fewer Super Bowl rings, fewer sacks and an obvious grudge against Strahan. Sapp was very public and very critical in his assessment of Strahan’s career.
Strahan’s response was an instant classic: “The tiger does not pay attention to the opinion of the sheep.”
One thing I love about that comeback is that it’s a great insult and puts Sapp in his place. What’s more important and more enduring, though, is the perspective it offers.
How often do we get bent out of shape because of some minor slight — a backhanded comment from a competitor, an insult from a rival or an uneducated statement by someone who really shouldn’t matter to us.
I’m not saying we should ignore what others think of or say about us. That’s unhealthy, often stupid and almost certainly bad for business. I’m just saying that we need to be selective about the opinions that matter and stop letting the “sheep” get to us.
We are, after all, tigers.