The animal kingdom has long been instrumental in teaching children about appropriate behavior. A rabbit named Peter educated us on the importance of conflict resolution. For better or worse, monkey George was habitually curious and, in separate incidents, three bears and three pigs taught us about the importance of home security.
Plus, despite a literary reputation as "big" and "bad," according to wildlife luminary Jack Hanna, "A wolf will feed the sick, the old and the young first."
Pretty impressive character traits for a creature so oft maligned. But we've learned to expect Jungle Jack Hanna to set the record straight on a world most of us will never experience firsthand.
Inspired by wildlife pioneer Marlin Perkins, Jack Hanna parlayed a fascination with animals and a position leading the Columbus Zoo into a television empire spanning 30 years and countless TV appearances including "Good Morning America" and "Late Show With David Letterman." In addition, he currently helms two television programs, "Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown" and "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild."
Not surprisingly, Hanna's high regard for the animal population is also reflected in his view of the public's acceptance of the animal kingdom. "Most people who say they don't like animals don't like people much either."
Former President of "Good Morning America" Phil Beuth observes, "With Jack, what you see is what you get; he's a genuine gentleman."
Hanna has set a very simple benchmark for appropriate professional behavior.
"I operate by The Golden Rule — do onto others as you would have them to do onto you."
Of course, humans are animals too, complete with instincts, genetic predispositions, unique skill sets and laws to keep us from acting like predatory animals. Yet, prey we do — leveraged buyouts, hostile takeovers, foreclosures, etc.
When asked about lessons human worker-bees can glean from the animal kingdom, Hanna enthusiastically responds, "Just look at ants and termites, they each have specific jobs to do."
By performing specific tasks every day, these creatures work solely to serve the greater good. ostensibly without complaining.
Animals = 1; Humans = 0
However, Hanna also points to an innate respect in the wild that does not always translate into the land of the bipeds.
"The animal world does not waste food and animals do not abuse their own children," he said. "For example, gorillas may fight but they still work together."
Working through issues to achieve top performance is apparently part of the natural order of things. It's about survival. As the concept of business survival has never been more prominent, shouldn't cooperation receive equal billing?
Animals = 2; Humans = 0
Though Hanna also marvels at the mysteries behind the instinctual and highly effective way animals communicate, many in the office marvel at some people's overwhelming lack of communication skills.
Animals = 3; Humans = 0
Specifically, according to Hanna, "The elephant is one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet."
So yes, it seems that without the benefit of iPhone, Twitter, or Outlook, an elephant truly never forgets.
Time to hire me an elephant. The Laws of Nature win every time.
Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the President of MindZoo, a marketing communications, PR and content development firm in Naples, FL. He can be reached at Randy@mindzoo.com or 239-304-9611.