My 7 year old daughter Makena drew this for me. She draws a lot and is pretty good at it. She's especially good at conveying emotion in the eyes of the things she draws.
I love the eyes on this one. Great big eyes. So conspicuously looking away, avoiding eye contact. So suspicious. Why won't it look at me? What's it up to? If it could whistle, it would be whistling that don't-mind-me-I'm-just-sitting-here-minding-my-own-business whistle that cartoon characters always whistled when they didn't want anyone to notice that they were up to no good.
At the time Makena gave this to me I was working for a company where we had an awful habit of getting distracted and not getting important things done. Meetings went off track. Strategic planning was a waste of time because we never did what we said we would. As a leadership team we were very aware of our failings. So much so that it became a part of our self-identity as a company. No matter how much we psyched ourselves up, deep down we'd expect meetings to be unproductive and to walk away from planning sessions knowing no one would do anything differently than they did before. It was terrible for morale, productivity and performance.
Tangents. Rat holes. We had lots of names for the things that we let distract us. My favorite though, was Squirrels. It comes from the Disney Pixar movie Up. Every so often Dug the dog would shout "Squirrel!" and bolt off, leaving whatever he was doing to wait for later.
So when Kena gave this to me after work one day I had to chuckle. Then I got the bright idea to write "BEWARE" across the top and tape it to the wall in each of our executives' offices. They had a good laugh about it and having it on the wall helped everyone be a little more aware of Squirrels.
The more I thought about it, the more I thought the analogy had legs (yes, that was on purpose) in the context of a conversation about staying focused, Doing What's Most Important and ultimately being more successful as individuals, a team and an organization.
Plus, sometimes there's some funny there. And I'm always looking for the funny.