Not sure how many of you needed to read this today but I was recently reminded of this story through a podcast and here I attempt to share it in my own words – this is an interesting story from the world of Porcupines and holds a great lesson for life and the way we are living it with our family, friends and colleagues.
As the story goes – it was a particularly distressing time in the land of Porcupines. This is when that winter was the coldest and most harsh, and the Porcupines who even though on an average have about 30,000 odd quills as their protection shields were literally freezing to death. And that’s when they decided to hold a get together to agree on a course of action for their survival strategy, and as they did, they realised that by being close to each other in a group they were able to feel warm enough and were able to protect each other. Remaining in close proximity meant that their bodies generated heat which helped them keep each other warm. Happy with their discovery they decided to hold on to each other to brave that atrocious winter.
But, as they got closer, they found that the quills of each one closest wounded them. Unhappy with the discomfort, some of the Porcupines decided to move away in order to avoid the pain. If only things were as simple as that! As they moved out of the circle, they succumbed to freezing cold and couldn’t survive long enough.
The better sense prevailed in some, and they realised it was better to stay together and survive together than facing the challenges of life and death. The mindset shift they made, made all the pain from the pricks and pokes bearable and they decided to overlook and ignore those problems to remain closely bonded together. Which was much easier as compared to the ultimate repercussion others faced when left the group.
This definitely strikes a chord if we try and relate this story to the world we live in and work in – our families, friends and colleagues.
We many a times get wounded with the words and actions of our closest when anger and hurt takes over. A part of us thinks it’s easier to move away from it all than to ignore a few things not realising, that moving away and standing alone could mean paying a bigger price than sometimes ignoring and overlooking something that really may not be as big as we see in that point in time.
Many families split, many friendships breaks up because of these small differences, some even quit their flourishing careers or get sacked because of something that they thought was unbearable in a particular moment.
We all tend to think that going/sending away would mean the end of troubles. No more quill pricks, is what we say to ourselves not realising that going away often spurs new troubles, and even bigger challenges than we envisage. After all we are hardwired for being-together, staying together.
What’s most interesting here is that Porcupines are hurt from the quills of the ones closest to them. Isn’t that the case for us humans too?
It’s true that Porcupines, who never were close to us actually never hurt us, but then they neither were close to provided the warmth that we so badly needed during those harsh winters of our lives! And eventually when they come close to provide that warmth to us, what happens next?
Isn’t it all about the mindset that Porcupines developed towards the end of the story?
It is quite possible that a few times those little hurts, the odd discomforts and pain may be caused by the ones closest to us but they are the ones who give us warmth to keep us going and help us survive in our toughest times!
A lot of times a member of our family, a friend, a colleague’s words or actions may poke us, wound us, hurt us and at that point in time it is very tempting to sever ties, break free and escape into a world where we feel there won’t be the troubles that someone caused for us. But what we don’t realise is, that their warmth could someday mean the difference between life and death for us. The ones closest to us might hurt us sometimes, but eventually they will be the ones to help us when we need it the most!
Similarly our belief of an ideal team is the one where everyone is in sync and every one agrees to every decision made and most importantly all the team members gel very well with each other. But! In my career of past 14 yrs I am yet to come across such a team out of various teams I have worked with, where we all clicked, agreed with each other or were all the time in sync. Although what really made working with most of those teams enjoyable, and sometimes even workable was when I took the initiative of learning to respect and appreciate the differences and uniqueness that each one of us brought to the table. Our goals became achievable when we also fixed the issue that someone else created without blowing our own trumpet and then celebrating each and every success as if it were our own. That’s what great teams, good friends and unbreakable bonds are all about.
So next time if are hurt by the prickly nature of one of your fellow porcupines then do remember that you have spikes as too and can be just as challenging to live with. And hence let’s learn to live with the sharp quills of others, hoping and praying that those around us can learn to live with ours too. No matter what the situation do pause and think of the winters ahead.
Getting away is easy but surviving away from our loved ones is lethal for both, us and our loved ones. As they say – ‘United we stand divided we fall’.
Today, do go ahead and fill some of those gaps that may have been waiting to be filled from past. Stay well, healthy and together 💞💚