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The Chicken and the Egg

Optimize Blog - April 23, 2012 - 0 comments

A Sri Lankan hen has given birth to a live chick without laying an egg, in a new twist on the age-old question of what came first – the chicken or the egg. The egg was incubated inside the hen for 21 days and then it hatched inside the hen.
The chick is fully formed and healthy but the mother hen has been less lucky having died from internal injuries caused by the unusual and unique birth.
The government veterinary officer in the area said he had never seen anything like it before. P.R. Yapa, the chief veterinary officer of Welimada, found that the fertilized egg had developed within the hen’s reproductive system, but stayed inside the hen’s body until it hatched.
This question has caused consternation to man for centuries. Ancient references to the dilemma are found in the writings of classical philosophers. Their writings indicate that the proposed problem was perplexing to them and was commonly discussed by others of their time as well.
Aristotle (384–322 BC) was puzzled by the idea that there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both the bird and egg must have always existed. More recently, intellectuals such as Nietzsche suggested that there is repetition of time. His assertion was that time is eternally repetitive, and therefore, there is no “first” in eternity; there is no creation. The answer then becomes that neither the egg nor the chicken is first. There is no “first” in a cyclical view of time.
In 2010 Researchers from Sheffield and Warwick universities in England thought that they had cracked (pun intended) the question when they discovered that the formation of eggs is possible only thanks to a protein found in chicken’s ovaries. That means eggs have to be formed in chickens first.
The chicken and the egg question bites us as leaders too. When trying to address a problem we are often times faced with the dilemma of potentially having to go first…… In these scenarios it is often less risky to wait for others to go first and then for us to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. But what if nobody moves? When is the tipping point reached when it is down to us to go first?
We are faced with such dilemmas frequently but of course as leaders we need to be brave. We need to have the fortitude to lead – to go first, to do the right thing and to lead from the front. Our regular readers and clients know one of our favourite sayings in coaching is “Lead, follow or get out of the way”. To be a successful leader you need to lead – it’s really implied in the title…..
Going first is a burden of leadership. It is a requirement. It is the role we are paid to carry out. So next time something needs to be done in your organization, don’t spend time on the chicken and egg conundrum. If it needs to be done, don’t wait for others. Regardless of whether you are a chicken or an egg, as a leader you need to go first no matter how hard that might be.
Leaders lead, others follow. The chicken and egg question may continue to baffle scholars but for us as leaders the answer is clear. Taking the lead and going first is our accountability.

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