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Secrets of Success

The Pig with the Wooden Leg

One afternoon a man became lost on a rural back road and stopped at a farm to get directions. As he walked up to the farm, he noticed a pig with a wooden leg. “I’ve never seen a pig with a wooden leg. How did that happen?” he asked the farmer.

“That pig?” said the farmer, “First of all, that’s not just any pig. That there’s a Hero pig. One night last year we had a fire start in the barn. Now that pig set up a squealing that woke everyone up. We got to the barn just as he was herding the last animals out. Saved ’em all.”

“And that was when he hurt his leg?” inquired the man.

“No sir, he pulled through that just fine.” said the farmer. “Good thing, too, cause a few months ago I was back in the woods clearin’ brush when a bear comes out of nowhere and starts attacking me. Well, sir, that pig hears the noise, he come a running, set on that bear and chased him off. Saved me for sure.”

“Whoa! So the bear injured his leg?” continued the man.

“Nope. He came away without a scratch. But if he hadn’t I might not be here. You see last spring I was out plowing when my tractor turned over in a ditch and trapped me underneath. Well, that pig dove right into that ditch and pulled me out before I got cut up in the machinery.”

“Oh, so his leg got caught in the tractor?” asked the man.

“Noooope. Both walked away from that one too,” said the farmer.

“So how did he get the wooden leg?” the man quizzed.

“Well,” the farmer replied, “A pig that good, you don’t eat him all at once.”

A funny story but not so funny if you’re the pig.

What about you? Are you a “pig with a wooden leg?”

o Are you always available in a crisis but seemingly forgotten afterwards?

o Are the needs of others consistently deemed more important than your needs?

o Are you loyal to people who do not seem to return that loyalty?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, read on and pay special attention.

Murray’s Story

Years ago I worked with a wonderful man named Murray.

Murray was a partner in a mid-size manufacturing company. He was the ultimate “go-to guy.” Need someone to deal with an impossible client? Murray was your guy. Founding partner being difficult? Go see Murray. Murray was the consummate team player.

And smart too. Year after year Murray’s division turned a profit. He seemed to be everywhere. He helped the other partners stay on track when the founding partner wanted to renegotiate his original retirement agreement. He assisted in bringing in a new CFO.

Murray may have seemed to be everywhere but Murray was tired. It was time to retire. As Murray approached his late 60s, he announced his plan to his fellow partners. Their reaction was definitely not what Murray had expected.

“What will we do without you?” “Who will handle all your roles?” “It’s just not a good time for you to leave.”

They implied the funds were not available to support his remaining years of retirement. Only after Murray threatened to sue did the partners agree to honor their commitment.

There was a brief announcement that Murray was leaving. On his last day of work, he quietly packed his belongings and left.

Murray was hurt. What about his needs? He had given his entire professional life to the company and this was how they treated him.

Always there in a crisis. Always putting the needs of others first.

Just like the pig with the wooden leg.

Elizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth was a third-year associate in a large law firm. Her firm had recently acquired a smaller firm. As often happens, there was some duplication of effort. Elizabeth was asked to leave and the firm sent her to me to get some outplacement counseling as part of her severance.

“I don’t understand?” the young associate said. “I’ve always gotten excellent reviews. I’ve done everything they asked me to do.”

“What is the name of your garbage man?” I asked. “Excuse me?” was her reply.

“You know, the guy who empties your trash each week?” “I have no idea,” Elizabeth responded.

“That’s right.” I pointed out, “All you know is you put the cans out full of trash in the morning and when you come home in the evening, they’re empty. You were like the garbage man here. Quietly doing a job but keeping an almost invisible profile. When your firm and the new firm went around the table to talk about who should stay and who should go, no one had a bad thing to say about you. But no one had any compelling reason to keep you. You had never spent any time advocating for yourself, but your counterpart at the other firm had clearly made sure numbers of people knew his value.”

Elizabeth simply assumed if she saw problems and solved them, everything would be fine.

Just like the pig with the wooden leg.

How to Make Sure You Don’t Become “The Pig with the Wooden Leg.”

Murray and Elizabeth’s fates need not become yours if you consistently do the following:

· Don’t assume your contributions insure fair treatment.

Have you made a point of making sure the decision makers in your organization know exactly how you are contributing and how others are benefiting from those contributions? In other words are you tactfully “tooting you own horn?”

· Always have options available.

If you are not being treated fairly have you thought about alternatives? Where else can you go? What else can you do?

· While the relationships are very important, remember it’s a business.

Do you know exactly how you contribute to the organization’s bottom line? Are the decisions makers aware of your value? How do you know?

· Keep your expectations grounded in facts—not wishes.

Do you expect to be appreciated while the facts indicate you are being taken for granted? Do you expect loyalty when the facts indicate you can’t trust some of those around you?

The pig with the wooden leg had no idea the fate that awaited him. With a little planning and a lot of awareness, you can make sure your “legs” are not cut out from under you.

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488