When tourists travel halfway around the world to go on safari, which animals do they want to see? Lions are no doubt toward the top of the list. When they show pictures of their trip to friends back home, the first question they hear is, "Did you see any lions?" In fact, if you come home without having seen a lion, you'll almost certainly be disappointed with your entire trip.
Why is that?
Lions are regal. They fear nothing. They're powerful, yet poised. They don't back down from a fight. Lions don't put up with nonsense from anyone or anything. They stand their ground. They have strength, wisdom, prowess, maturity, and total confidence. Yet they also show leadership, tenderness, and compassion toward other members of their pride, especially young lion cubs.
Now, let's talk about the goat.
Goats are prey. They're not particularly talented at anything except appearing on a dinner table. Goats can be light on their hooves and adeptly scamper up rocky mountain paths, they're also restless and flighty. They get scared easily, then run away quickly. They're fickle-minded, indecisive, and poor decision makers. They follow the herd. They never stand up for themselves, even if they're in a large group.
Let's compare these two animals in two different pressure situations. If you ever watch a lion being cornered or tranquilized as sometimes necessary for their own safety. Although cornered, the lion never shows fear. Even when being shot with a tranquilizer, and probably thinking it's going to die, the lion keeps its head held high. It never lowers its head
Compare the two: The lion holds its head high with defiance and pride. The goat bows its head in surrender. They're clearly very different animals with completely different DNAs.
As a corporate executive, or someone who soon will be, you would be well-served to step into the business role of the lion. Show a lion's courage, strength, confidence, and endurance. Think of yourself as a powerful lion, never a skittish goat. It will be reflected in how you carry yourself and how you act in the office, in meetings, and with clients. It will influence how others perceive you, both in and out of the office. No matter what goes wrong, you will always remain strong, poised, and in control. Modeling the lion is one of the keys to a long and prosperous corporate career.
You'll meet all kinds of negative people in your career, from backstabbers to complete jerks. You'll experience obstructionists who want nothing more than to build walls in front of you and block your path. But if you maintain the characteristics discussed above, they will eventually realize who is the lion and who is the goat. They'll treat you accordingly. In my experience, the world steps around you as it experiences you. Go through this world as a lion.
Vishal Agarwal is the bestselling author of Give to Get. As a senior leader, he has navigated corporate life for the past 24 years. He has served as a top global executive for General Electric and as a senior partner at Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC). Agarwal has navigated all facets of corporate life -- from building teams and delivering value to translating multinational visions into local wins.