Fast Growth: How To Outrun A Cheetah

“Fast” and “Growth” are two words that appeal to me. I bet you’re interested in growing your business, ministry, bottom-line, or impact. If you’re like me, you want that to happen fast. I read a story of Kenyan villagers who outran several Cheetahs to capture them alive. I learned 3 important fast growth lessons from these villager’s tactics. 

Faster than most supercars, a Cheetah can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat. A Cheetah’s acceleration and top speed of 70 mph makes it the fastest land animal.

The world’s fastest human is Usain Bolt, who clocked 23.35 mph in a 100-meter sprint. You and me, we could run maybe 16 mph if something with sharp teeth was chasing us, otherwise we’d run about 12 mph.

So, how did a group of villagers in north-east Kenya outrun and capture several Cheetahs? Here’s the story. 

How To Outrun A Cheetah

Villagers in arid north-east Kenya rely on livestock for their living, specifically, goats. A group of Cheetahs (called a coalition, but who knows that!) had killed 15 of one man’s goats, one at a time, over several weeks.

One day, the man, named Nur Osman Hassan saw them kill yet another of his goats. He gathered three youths and waited until the hottest part of the day. Then they began to run toward the Cheetahs. As the villagers approached, the Cheetahs ran away and laid down some distance away. But the villagers kept after them at a steady pace. Reaching the place where the Cheetahs rested, the Cheetahs would run away again. The villagers followed.

This went on for 4 miles.

Finally, the Cheetahs became so tired they couldn’t run anymore. The villagers captured them alive, tied them up, and turned them over to the Kenyan Wildlife Service. (Source: BBC News).

3 Fast Growth Lessons From Outrunning Cheetahs

I like this story because it illustrates how it’s possible to do the impossible if you change your tactics. Here are 3 leadership lessons from this story:

  1. The worst timing is sometimes the best. The villagers waited until the hottest part of the day, because that’s when Cheetahs are tired and want to rest. That time of day is also uncomfortable for the villagers. Running in the cool morning would have been more comfortable for the villagers, but also for the Cheetahs. I hear many leaders waiting for a better economy, different season, or new business cycle to launch their growth. Be contrarian. Sometimes the best timing is the worst. Launch when everyone else is tired, waiting, and resting.
  2. You’ve got to do the hard work yourself. The article doesn’t say if Mr. Hassan complained to authorities about the goat-poaching Cheetahs. Either way, he didn’t wait for someone else to do the work. He led the charge himself. What are you waiting for someone else to do? Jump in, grab some help, and do it yourself. If Mr. Hassan had done this a week earlier, he would have 7 more goats. Every day he waited cost him a goat. What is waiting costing you?
  3. Steady’s fast is faster than Fast’s fast. Humans can’t outrun Cheetahs over a short distance, but they can outrun them over a long distance. You don’t have to be the quickest to grow fast. If you have steady, continuous growth, over a longer time period, you’ll grow “fast.” It’s said that we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in three. We give “fast” too much attention. “Steady” is faster at producing more results.

What Cheetah do you need to outrun? 

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    Keith is an author, speaker and Professional Certified Coach. He helps on-the-go leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    • Fantastic advice, Keith! Finding a solution means thinking differently… I’m sharing this with my team!

      • In the story, it was a team that outran the cheetahs. Your team can outrun your cheetahs too!

    • Cathy P

      I am tempted to see others as holding me back; this article encourages me to take action for myself. Thanks, Keith.

    • Maree

      Hi Keith, great story with powerful applications… I appreciate your insights!

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