During trips to Tennessee to visit my mother's folks in the mid-1960s, my two brothers and I had several opportunities to explore the countryside of the Cumberland Plateau. One trip I remember was to the site of an old saw mill.
As we often did back in Ohio, my brothers and I turned over old decaying slabs of lumber looking for snakes, field mice, or various insects. Soon we were amazed with our find. The most ferocious looking creature scurried out of the sunlight. Although we had never seen these animals before, we recognized them as scorpions.
We had never seen scorpions in Ohio but they thrived in the milder climate of Tennessee. My heart jumped at the first sight of the inch and one half long scarlet predators. Their tails slung over their back with an "I dare you to touch me look." As they quickly scattered for cover the black stinger at the end of their tail was the last thing we saw. I stepped with a snap fearing that their newfound hiding place might be up my pants leg. My older brother, Joe, laughed deeply at my cautiousness.
We continued to the next slab and Joe reached his fingers under the edge of the thin piece of wood and flipped it over. There, five or six bright red scorpions again scattered for darkness. One or two stood defiantly pincers raised in challenge to the giants confronting them. Joe grabbed a nearby stick and brought it down pinning the nearest scorpion. He proceeded to explore it with a smaller stick. The scorpion grabbed at the smaller stick with its pincers and flung its stinger-laden tail at the same small stick. We learned how quick the scorpion was and how they attacked their opponents. To my younger brother, Jack, and me, Joe seemed fearless.
There are about 40 different species of scorpions in the United States. A member of the spider family, arachnida, scorpions have eight legs and a segmented tail. With lobster-like claws a scorpion grabs spiders and insects before delivering a paralyzing sting from its tail. It is truly a vicious, scary looking animal. As Joe held the scorpion with the stick, we got an opportunity to examine this foreign animal.
Sometimes, leaders stumble upon new discoveries. They take the time to fully understand their new learning. At times, the value of the learning is obvious. At other times, the learning is gained for the sake of learning. Sometimes we find use for the learning down the road. However, the love of learning has a value in itself.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's completely revised, third printing of "The Facilitative Leader: Behaviors that Enable Success," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.