Keeping Fish, Observation and Environments. I used to keep Tropical Fish. They taught me (although I didn’t realise it at the time!) a lot about maintaining a stable environment and what happened when it was destabilised.
Although the tank looked serene, it was a temperature critical, fragile place and things weren’t always okay, even though they looked alright. On a couple of occasions, mass mortalities occurred because of changes I’d failed to notice. There were other occasions when, without understanding the behaviours of new fish I introduced for my aesthetic pleasure they ran (well, swam) amok.
So … minor temperature changes, dangerous species mixes, and the inadvertent introduction of pathogens and bacteria made the tank a very different environment to the one I looked at and wanted others to see.
Here’s what I knew: I knew I liked Tropical Fish and so did a group of my friends, I knew I had a working understanding (unfortunately not enough!) of how to keep them and I knew how to replace the ones that died. All of this was surface (sic) knowledge. It was to do with the acquisition, maintenance and replacement of fish. It had little or nothing to do with caring from them or nurturing them and whereas that particular piece of ignorance was unintentional, it was, for the fish anyway, catastrophic!
I guess the failure here was my assumption that I knew enough about aquatics to be a keeper of fish. I didn’t, I couldn’t keep them, I was a “3rd rate Custodian of Fish,” not much of a title is it? It causes me to wonder how many Maverick Leaders witness a similar levels of ownership within organisations?
If we are little more than “informed observers”, relying in a few technical approaches to looking after the people we’re responsible for, please don’t expect them to do well or stick around for long. Hopefully they’ll meet a better fate than the fish but I’m sure you get my point. Maintaining the environment isn’t enough. Making yourself aware of small but critical is essential, as is making the necessary adjustments that are informed by your observations, understanding of similar events and by pushing the boundaries and application of your knowledge and understanding.
Keeping Fish, Observation and Environments
One of the best minds I ever worked for had a saying: “More roof, more snow!” the more you own, the more you have to look after. So, when I expanded my fish-keeping by obtaining more tanks, I became busier at repeating failure or at best, always chasing the game. Where I had failed wasn’t about vision or aspiration, it was to do with the understanding of three significant areas:
- Simple learnable and repeatable “hygiene” measures that would have prevented toxic transfer of pathogens. In the context of Maverick Leadership, I consider these to be a considered approach to shaping a healthy working environment.
- Poor recognition of and learning from small declines in well-being: the smaller fish died first and in greater numbers because there were more of them and they were vulnerable. What killed them eventually infected the whole tank.
- Don’t assume that because things look alright, they are alright. The bigger and apparently healthy fish simply declined over a longer period.
- Talk to people (other fish keepers!) they just might have that piece of insight that prevents failure on a grand scale.