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INSTINCTUAL FOCUS: The Tale of the Praying Mantis
by Lucille Maddalena, Ed.D.


A few weeks ago I attended an advanced management training to learn the decision making techniques of some of the most successful business leaders.  The emphasis of the program was on staying focused to achieve clarity in the decision making process. The business owners and corporate executives in the audience were lead through some deep breathing exercises, similar to the techniques used in yoga and other meditative disciplines
The premise is that by clearing our minds of the clutter, turning off the distractions and relaxing our bodies, our minds are more receptive to contemplative thinking. We are renewing our ability to make free associations, to allow our thoughts to explore different options, and test connections we might reject or overlook when under stress. Good opinions cannot be rushed: we must give ourselves time to consider alternatives.

I recalled the program when I saw a Praying Mantis sitting on my porch. Best known for its ability to remove aphids and other harmful insects from plants, it had settled a few feet from my prize rose bushes, and I was pleased to have this natural protector of my plants from near-invisible tiny predators nearby. Fall has arrived: if these; rose buds were to be given a chance to bloom before the winter frost, the damage from the ravenous aphids had to be halted.

I grabbed my camera and immediately thought of how remarkable it is to have a visit from this unique creature at this critical time.

In the first photo, the mantis is sitting quietly soaking in the sun and looking in the direction of my rose bushes; It was at rest, in neither fight nor flight modem, while its sense of the aphids presence probably drew it to the spot.

As I cautiously approached, it began to turn its head toward me,  its field of vision as it took in the new addition to its environment. It lowered its body as if preparing to leap away.

I stopped and while I remained unmoving, it relaxed its posture, continuing to keep its head turned toward me.

After about two minutes without movement, it turned to once again look toward the rose bushes. Returning to its primary occupation, did it forget that I was there or was it distracted by a potential food source in the rose bushes?

I walked in front of the mantis, moving to its other side before becoming still. The movement brought renewed attention to me. This time its stare was less than a minute in my direction.

Unconcerned with me, in one smooth movement the Mantis turned its head forward and leaped onto my rose bushes. By following its instincts the little Mantis performed a service that would allow the rose buds to open, color and fragrance for weeks to come.  A new crop of healthy roses will bloom to grace my doorway and welcome visitors before winter settles in and the bushes go dormant.

The moral of this little tale of the mantis?

Trust your instincts. Appreciate your strengths, both small and large. What you have to offer is of value. Focus on what is important;  Ignore the distractions. Be aware of what you need to do for yourself and change what you are capable of changing. Let others do for themselves what needs to be done: be available should they ask for help.
Listen to your head and be guided by your heart.

And remember to stop and smell the roses. There is always time to smile, laugh and appreciate the simple joys!


The Author

Lucille Maddalena

Lucille Maddalena, Ed.D. is an Executive Coach and Management Consultant providing management skill training, team building, meeting facilitation, conflict resolution processes, and group coaching programs. More than 6,000 managers have successfully completed her popular TRANSITIONS TO MANAGEMENT seminars. Her new workshop, TRAIL SETTING & STORY TELLING, guides participants to achieve life and career goals while clearly defining their own legacy through story telling. See Dr. Maddalena's recently published articles on her website or blogs: .

Many more articles in Executive Peformance in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2009 by Lucille Maddalena. All rights reserved.

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