Category Archives: Lessons From Animals

life lessons drawn from reviewing the characteristics of anaimals

Let’s Monkey Around

Do you know why Michael Jackson had a monkey as a pet? Er…same here?

Now for some serious monkey business.

The smallest monkeys are five to six inches small, that’s the length of an average man’s penis (you can just imagine a monkey hidden in a man’s crotch). While some are way larger, they all share some common characteristics and in this post we will see just how much we can improve our lives by learning from monkeys.

Monkeys are good with their hands. The baby monkey learns the world with its hands and can adapt its hands to various activities. Today, more and more entrepreneurs prefer monkeys – people who can work with their hands or have a lot of practical knowledge. It would be a good idea, then, while in school to not just get a theoretical knowledge of things as this is of little value in the real world if not supported by practical skills. Has one of the defects of the Nigerian educational system not been that it produces graduates that are unemployable because they lack basic skill sets? If our administrators will learn from monkeys then they will develop and implement a curriculum that is practical oriented.

Related to this is the monkeys ability to imitate. You can teach a monkey maany things that it can not only learn but even use them to outsmart you as a human. Monkeys are teachable. Are you?

Being teachable is way different from being quick to understand things. It means having the humility (among other things) to sit at someone’s feet to learn from them. It means not being quick to point out how you want others to live to make things easier for you but how you can contribute to make life easier for them. A teachable person will listen, learn and then imitate what he has been taught. We are here reminded of a classroom where the students are expected to listen to the teacher and learn from them. In the real world however, every experience in life is a teacher and only those who are humble-like a monkey-can learn life’s lessons and improve.

As my friend @Jesseoguns puts it, life is often full of ‘useless knowledge’ but we can ‘spot the patterns and join the dots at intersections’. We do not have to be the smartest people in the room to learn we just have to find the smartest ways in which to learn: we can either learn from our own mistakes or from the mistakes of others. The important thing is that we do learn and become better individuals. So you do well to ask yourself, in what way can I be more teachable? This blogpost offers an interesting perspective    

Monkeys do not like to be cuddled by humans. Monkeys know their kind and will only happily accept displays of affection from their kind. This seems like a basic principle but many times we humans do not know how to identify our kind. We often give or want to receive affection from the wrong people. Have you not heard it said that good girls are attracted to bad boys and vice versa?  If we would be like monkeys then we would set up a criteria before which we can get emotionally involved with people and stick to it. For some, a basic ground for a relationship could be that the person loves God and their fellowman. A man may decide that he will only marry a woman that meets with certain requirements: Is she clean? Can she cook? Is she respectful? Such criteria are often based on what is of paramount importance to the individual in question and what he or she is bringing to the table. What moral justification does a man who cheats on his girlfriend have to be wishing for a failthful wife? Be like a monkey-stick to your kind.

Monkeys are also clever and curious yet they know how to have fun.

So, do you now know why Michael Jackson had a monkey as a pet? Oh well…same here:)

Let’s make it a date same place next week! In the mean time let’s keep learning from animals.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Lessons From Animals


We Can Learn From Ewe

‘Baa baa black sheep
Have you any wool
Yes sir, Yes sir,
Three bags full’

As a child, you may have recited that nursery rhyme. The rhyme reminds us that one of the reasons we keep sheep is for their wool. But we also keep sheep for their meat and milk. Sheepnomics is good, but of far more value in this post is eweducation. (For the purpose of this post we shall use sheep and ewe interchangeably)

By the way, I hope you know that ‘ewe’ is said exactly like ‘you’? Good! Now you know. So what are some characteristics of sheep that we can learn from?

In Eastern Nigeria, there is a saying: The sheep says there is nothing more important than to observe. Sheep (plural sheep) can sit around all day looking. Sometimes, people say this means sheep are stupid. But in observing, sheep are able to tell who their shepherd is. Sheep only follow the one person they know is their leader. Also while observing, sheep ruminate and chew the curd.

The power of observation can save us humans a lot in pain and heart ache. A young lady/man who stops to observe the person s/he is in a relationship with, will not be quick to get into marriage with someone he doesn’t know. The time spent dating /courting will be utilised in seeing how compatible you and your future partner are. And when you observe you take action. Remember, a sheep will not follow anyone who is not his shepherd neither should form marriage alliance with anyone who is not for you.

Speaking of following people, sheep teach us to only follow the true shepherd. Sheep have the ability to recognise the shepherd based on their observation and long-term facial recognition skills. Do you have the ability to recognise a true leader. Or are you easily deceived into following people who disguise themselves as shepherds?

A true leader will not be forced, coerced or pressured into leadership. He will not wait to be told ‘Hey! You are the leader we need’. No, a true leader begins the walk and then people see he is leading and follow.

A true leader does not preach virtue and practice vice. He does not wear a garb of humility over his pride and arrogance, only to strip it off when it suits him. He is neither abusive nor does he make himself unapproachable because he has many followers.

Let us learn from the sheep and use our powers of observation. What manner of leader only begins to speak up against rot and corruption when he is kicked out of the system of corruption he has been romancing with. Observe! Do no follow a false shepherd.

Moving forward, sheep are sacrificial animals. This perhaps explains why a sheep’s first reaction to a confrontation is to flee. But this in no way means sheep can not stand up for themselves. When pushed to a corner, an ewe will exhibit aggressive behaviour.

So, do you have a sacrificial spirit? What would you give to make your fellow man happy. A key problem Nigerians have had with their government is that they have been forcing them to make sacrifices while they loot and get fatter. Some have even gone as far as saying that they will give nothing because they get nothing. But the truth of the matter remains that you don’t make sacrifices because you are hoping someone else will reciprocate by making a sacrifice.

Jesus for instance, as Christians believe, made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up his life on behalf of his friends. Like Vicki Soto, first grade teacher who died protecting her pupils during the Newton school shoot out. Reports say, she threw herself in front of the gun man to save the children. What sacrifice could be greater than this?

Now, you are seated in a bus and someone in discomfort asks you to move over a bit, and you react angrily. Would you then be willing to run into a burning house to pull out someone who is in danger of being burnt to death. You may think that is the stuff super hero tales are made of, but remember Vicki? What do you think moved her? How many times have we seen someone facing a near death situation and instead of helping out, we pick up our phones and tweet at Gidi_Traffic? The ewe tells us to be sacrificial.

And did you know that taste is the most important sense in a sheep. You never know whether you will really like something until you try it. The sheep eats grass and it loves sweet grass. So go ahead try something new today. Perhaps a meal you’ve always shunned because of the tribe that prepares it. Many people from South West Nigeria now enjoy dishes from the South East, but I do know a lot of my South Eastern brothers who wouldn’t try out meals from other ethnic groups. Why not taste and see.
I am anabagail and next week will be time for another great discussion on Lessons From Animals:) till then just say eeeeeeewe:)


Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Lessons From Animals


The Graceful Giraffe

Today, we talk about the giraffe. The tall lanky animals with the long neck. You may remember stretching your neck in class to copy from someone’s work and hearing the teacher’s voice boom ‘No giraffing’. But here’s some news: it’s time to do some ‘giraffing’ into your future. Please stretch your neck, stretch it right out and see beyond the obvious. Stretch it and see where you are going. And with that picture fixed in your mind, work towards achieving your dreams.

The giraffe reaches right to the top to get green leaves to feed on. What stops you from feeding off your dreams? Any creative person will tell you, each work starts with a vision. A journey without a known destination is simply wandering. A proposal without clearly defined objectives will get thrown out. So dream it, then stretch your neck and reach out for it.

Giraffes are graceful gentle creatures. When you watch them in a safari, you get the feeling that they don’t have a care in the world. But they do, giraffe meat is a lion’s favourite and so giraffes are on a constant look out for the enemy. Humans too have daily worries. And when you look around or meet people they seem to always be angry. If they were giraffe’s they wouldn’t wear their problems on their foreheads. They would be gentle and graceful even though they are aware of the dangers around them. Advice: Act like you don’t have a care in the world, it doesn’t take away your problems…it just lowers your blood pressure. As my Nutri C wrist band says: keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others.

Giraffes are non-territorial, they move in herds without any discriminatory structures, instead they only have nurseries to keep the young ones protected. The giraffe doesn’t care who is tall, short, pretty, ugly, intelligent, foolish, Hausa, Igbo,Yoruba, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Anglican, Catholic, PDP, ACN, CPC…every giraffe is a giraffe. Come to think of it, are we not all humans? Made from dust? Returning to dust? Giraffes teach us to be sociable, mix with others and gain from them and forget about creed, colour or political affiliations.

But by far the biggest lesson I learnt from the giraffe relates to how a baby giraffe is born: first it drops from a height of eight feet and lands on the ground, the mother smooches the baby with her neck and then just when the baby is beginning to get used to the smooching and is looking too lazy to rise, she kicks it right off the ground into the air and it lands with a thud. Now if baby giraffe still doesn’t get it, the mother keeps kicking until it does: the baby must learn to walk and run as soon as it is born to increase its chances at survival.

Two lessons from the giraffe’s birth.
1. No matter where you fall from you can rise. If you don’t know how tall eight feet is to a baby giraffe, think of yourself falling from a story build! Yet, the giraffe rises, walks and then runs.
2. It takes love to kick a friends butt. The mother giraffe smooches the baby and then kicks. No time for unnecessary displays of affection. There is a time and a place for that. When you see a friend wallowing in self pity because they have fallen, do you let them be? Whatever for? You need to find the courage to kick them hard and good. How will they get back their senses if all you do is sigh and say ‘it is well’? Do something! Are they depressed? Drag them out for a walk, spend time with them. Love them then kick them.

And if you don’t have a friend you can trust to kick your butt, I’m up for hire!

That’s it on lessons from animals for the week. I am @anabagail on Twitter and I’m always learning:)


Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Lessons From Animals


C is for Cat

You may already know these sayings with ‘cat’ in them:
Curiosity killed the cat.
Who will bell the cat?
A cat has nine lives: three for playing, three for straying and three for staying.
Look what the cat dragged in!
But a few of these may be somewhat strange:
A cat can look at a king.
All cats are grey in the dark and
Nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Yet, all these sayings are built on a characteristic of our feline friends, the cat. True, in some cultures in Africa, seeing a cat, especially a black one is judged a bad omen as cats are generally thought to be used by witches. But, some people do keep this creatures as adorable pets. Let us take a few lessons from cats.

Cats stare

They stare at everyone with those huge eyes. Little wonder the saying: A cat can look at a king. This saying is used to mean ‘no one is so important that an ordinary person can not look at him or her; we can all be curious about important people’. Cats are very curious creatures. Remember curiosity killed the cat?

The bigger question is: where should our curiosity or looking, if you choose, at important people lead us. Should we just look at pictures of how they live and spend time day dreaming about someday being like them or do we become curious about how they achieved their success with a view to learning from them how to be better in our personal endeavours?

Do you understand the concept of mentorship? Can your curiosity move you to walk up to an ‘important’ person and ask that they take you under their wings? Let’s say, your dream is to become a professional footballer. Would your curiosity move you to find out all you can about footballers you know and can be introduced to and who can help you advance your career or will you sit all day reading sports magazines and dreaming of how one day you will play in the European League? Curiosity should move you to find out and then you must act on your knowledge.

Still on the cat’s stare, who can hold back from a cat staring with those luminous eyes? Interestingly, cats also use the same eyes to stare down their prey. Bottom line is cats use their eyes to help them get what they want. Let’s relate this to the workplace. Picture this scenario:

James has been working hard all year for this promotion. Getting it means so much to him which is why he has ensured he has a clean slate all year: he arrives at work early and does all he is asked. He has even gone a step further to do some things he hasn’t been asked. There’s no way he is not getting this promotion.

But then, there’s Peter. Peter does good work too, well not as good as James and he has been late a number of times- damn traffic. Here’s the catch, Peter does something we all like to call ‘kissing arse’. He sucks up to the boss. Just the other day, he was sharing pro golf tips with the boss. No, Peter does not like golf, he took an interest because it is something the boss likes. Slowly but surely, Peter warmed his way into the bosses heart. Now who do you think will get that promotion?

Never forget: it’s a jungle out there and a cat is king of the jungle.

Cats play

On my TL yesterday someone made a note about people trading their sense of humour for a bag of seriousness. After I read that update, I realised that I wasn’t the only one who has noticed how much less playful people were these days. Even when they take out time to unwind, they are still uptight. Or have you not seen instances of people fighting in a party?

Interestingly, the cat’s nine lives is made up of three sets of activities, each getting three lives each: playing, straying and staying. Can we balance our lives the same way? Like someone said: no one ever died from laughing.

My ‘friend’ @sagaysagay on Twitter runs a humour blog. If you ever find yourself worked up and uptight, do pay him a visit here… . Remember, playing decreases your chances of dying young! And no one really wants to be around people who are grouchy.

Inspite of how playful the cat is, it knows there’s a time to stray and a time to stay, that’s balance if you ask me. I hope the players out there learn that a time comes in their lives, after they have said ‘I do’ that they just need to stay and take care of the one they call their own.

So much more we can learn from cats which we can apply practically in our day to day living: the cat’s grooming, dragging something in…

I am anabagail on Twitter and on my TL today, I’ll be all catty;)


Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Lessons From Animals


Tags: , ,

The Incredible Crocodile

It has been described as the King of the Nile but it can also be found in Asia, Australia, North and South America and the Middle East. Even the bible acknowledges this huge reptile, calling it Leviathan. In Job 41:2, God asks Job: Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? In this post we shall attempt to draw some lessons from the characteristics of the crocodile.

The first thing that you will probably notice about the crocodile, and a major distinguishing factor between it and its cousin the alligator is the fourth tooth of the lower jaw which it bares even when it’s jaws are shut. Another distinction is that the crocodile has a long slender snout.

The crocodile is a reptile, cold blooded. It also has a tough scaly skin. You probably may have heard of tales of hunters who has to shoot at the crocodile somewhere between its head and body, the spot where its skin is tender in order to hurt it. This kind of reminds me how as humans we all have weak spots. Unfortunately, some of us have an endless fold of sensitive skin. We are quick to take offence and we see the slightest jokes as an insult. A good advice would be to grow thick skin and learn to ignore. As a popular journal once said, ‘if it is a passing comment, let it pass’.

We have strong reasons to develop a thick skin at this point in man’s history. Have you noticed how more and more people are less kind? How many people would always resort to trading insults when you cross their path? Developing a thick skin will surely prevent you from getting unnecessarily worried or losing sleep over their actions. You will accept it as a sign of the times but would not be drawn to rolling in the mire with them. Interestingly, crocodile skin tough is sensitive to the world around it including temperatures and rate of acidity of water. We should also note volatile conditions and avoid them. This might involve physically walking away from a situation that can likely degenerate into a fight.

Would you walk away from a twitfight?

Note that if the crocodile chooses to attack, you may never be able to outrun it. However, like his relative the snake, the crocodile does not go out of its way to look for a fight.

The crocodile is no pretender. It bares its teeth …always. The crocodile clearly tells you: keep off, I bite. How many of us can be that honest about who we are? I often hear of ladies in relationships who hide all the bad stuff until they ‘hook’ the guy, and then they show their true colours. If you are so proud of whom you are, why hide it?

Sadly, many of us are not crocodile-like. We are pretenders, hypocritical. We will condemn something only when it suits us and turn a blind eye when we or a close friend will stand to benefit. I have often asked friends: if you or a close friend had an opportunity to benefit from corruption in Nigeria, would you be so critical of Nigeria?

Crocodiles are very territorial, but when there is a drought they give up this attribute for the survival of all. Crocodiles know there is a time for everything. Do you?

There is a time to fight and a time to be friends. Election time is always a time to ‘fight’. We route for candidates and campaign for the person we believe will make the best ruler. But after the elections? When someone emerges as winner do we keep fighting? Or do we move on to the next phase of working either as the supporters or the opposition to make things work out for the best. Do you know what time it is?

The biggest crocodile fact I learnt while researching for this post is that crocodiles never stop growing. They grow very fast when they are young but their growth slows down when they are older, but they never stop growing. Does this not remind you of the saying, there’s never an end to learning?

How many times have you heard someone say that when they learn something new? Yet, how many people make it a point of duty to learn something new every day. We have the internet, everything we could ever need to learn is stored here and then some. Yet, you find people come here to ask the basest questions that a few minutes on Google would answer. Yes, it sounds rude to tell people to go ask Google, but perhaps people shouldn’t wait to be asked, they should take the initiative to do research.

The truth is, when you ask a question, you will be told exactly what you need to know, but when you do research you will find out much more than you were looking for. For example, a few days ago, someone tweeted about client briefs and said they are called briefs because they should be brief. I was tempted to contradict her immediately. I knew there were briefs that were quite lengthy. But instead of doing that I decided to use Google. From Google, I learnt there are different types of briefs, I had been thinking of a creative brief while she was talking about a client’s brief: there’s never an end to learning.

Be a croc, learn something new today.

#lessonsfromanimals continues next week.

I am anabagail on Twitter.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Lessons From Animals


The Amazing Dolphin

You may have heard some really cool stories about the dolphin. The dolphin is believed to be intelligent, friendly and very acrobatic. However, not all dolphins are ‘nice’. I doubt if you met the dolphin known as the killer whale in any waters, you will hang around to say hi!

In this post, we will swim with the dolphin and learn about some of its amazing characteristics. Characteristics we could convert to vital lessons to make our stay on this planet worthwhile not only for ourselves but also for people we meet daily.




Dolphins have their ear openings as slits behind their eyes. They have both a unique sense of hearing and excellent vision both in and out of water. Now as any scientist would tell you, the dolphin needs specially adapted lenses and cornea to accomplish this feat because when light passes from air to water, it changes speed.

Let’s pause for a moment and look at this. It does seem that the dolphin, by virtue of the position of its eyes and ears, takes the expression ‘listen with your eyes’ to new levels. The dolphin can adapt its lens and cornea to see things more clearly dependent on whether they are in or out of water. Now ask yourself: have I been able to adapt my eye of understanding to see things more clearly? Or do I take everything literally and jump to conclusions. While it is not advisable to over think issues, we would be saving ourselves a lot of trouble if we adapt our eyes to new territories when we enter them. For example, if you find yourself in a new work environment, will you adapt your vision to align with that of the organisation you are now with or will you choose to maintain your old vision? The latter will certainly be a recipe for disaster.

Speaking of recipes, any ideas what a dolphin eats? Well we shall not be dwelling on the dolphins cuisine, rather we shall be talking about what it does with food after swallowing it. A dolphin has two stomachs, one for storing food and the other for digesting it. The fore-stomach often contains stones that help grind the food ready for it to be digested.

Stop! Let’s chew on this and savour its taste. What can you stomach? Can you develop two stomachs like the dolphin, one for analysing issues and the other for digesting it? When someone makes a comment that you find distasteful, can you send it to your fore-stomach for grinding and removal of worthless materials so that you will only be left with the essentials for final digestion? What if after crushing and churning the information you still find it insulting? Will you regurgitate it instead of sending it to the waste where it belongs? If you spend your time responding to every insult, either perceived or real, then you will have recurring constipation which might lead you to constantly fouling the air around you. Not cool.

Dolphins have also been known to form bonds that may last a lifetime. They support sick and dying pod members and dolphins believe that it belongs to the entire community to train a calf.

May we therefore learn from the dolphin to support people in their causes. When you see a project that requires you volunteer your time or money to help others, do you convince yourself that there is nothing you can give? If your child misbehaves in public and another adult scolds them, do you take offence? If you find a friend willing to stick with you come what may, do you take them for granted?

Remember the dolphin.

I am anabagail on Twitter. Join me again next week as we learn from another animal.


Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Lessons From Animals