to be a buffalo, cow or human

compassion, connection, intentions -

to be a buffalo, cow or human

One of the most memorable moments from our cross-country journey was encountering Yellowstone's bison from a safe distance—leaving the reckless bravado to others. These majestic creatures are American icons. 

This leads to a favored metaphor often invoked at national sales meetings and in discussions about business, life, and leadership, suggesting we emulate the buffalo rather than the cow when confronted with challenges. (Note to the editor: I'm aware of the distinction between buffaloes and bison, but let's flow with this analogy.)

According to popular lore, cows react to approaching storms with fear, attempting to flee. However, their lack of speed inevitably results in the storm catching up, prolonging their exposure to its effects. In contrast, buffaloes, portrayed as wise and brave, charge directly into the storm. This counterintuitive approach allows them to pass through it more quickly, thus minimizing their discomfort.

The metaphor culminates in a call to "be the buffalo" when facing adversity—tackling it head-on to emerge stronger. This rallying cry is typically met with enthusiastic applause as people embrace their "inner buffalo." Yes, "Be The Buffalo!" they chant.

Awesome, right? 

Yeah, we have a little problem. There's little empirical evidence supporting the metaphor. Acknowledging this fact might dampen the story's flair.

But that hasn't stopped people from sharing the story over and over again. Isn't it amazing how something that isn't entirely true can spread far and wide? 

Despite its frequent repetition, the metaphor simplifies the complex and varied nature of facing challenges. Real-life situations in business and leadership demand nuanced approaches. Sometimes, confronting a challenge directly is wise, while seeking shelter and waiting out the storm is more prudent at other times.

In today's world, marked by complexity and uncertainty, success often requires adaptability. While this doesn't lend itself to straightforward motivational speeches, it's a message that bears repeating. We need to know when to push forward, when to let something breathe, when to collaborate, and when to be directive. 

Life doesn't adhere to a one-size-fits-all approach. Creating space for reflection and thoughtful decision-making about the best course of action in any situation is essential.

So, rather than aspiring to be a buffalo or a cow, embrace the unique capabilities of being human. Our remarkable prefrontal cortex and the quirks that define us enable us to Pause, Breathe, Reflect, and be thoughtful about our path—abilities our bovine counterparts lack.

They also can't join our amazing community, but you can. If you haven't yet, take a moment to download our Pause Breathe Reflect app today and join a like-hearted community of humans looking to be better humans to other humans and all creatures, including buffaloes and cows.