This month’s November illustration shows pigs feeding on an autumn harvest of acorns. This medieval European scene continues today in large oak groves of Spain and Portugal.

A 14th century English proverb states,

November, from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

“Large streams from little foundations flow and tall oaks from little acorns grow.” The acorn has long been a symbol of potential and growth. The Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw adds an interesting perspective — and twist; “Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak! Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.” An interesting — and apt — observation!

Tomorrow we publish the compilation of last month’s blog in The Leader Letter. In preparation for my (free) Leading a Peak Performance Culture webcast on November 4, a major theme is organizational culture development. The 19th century American essayist, lecturer, and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, could well have been talking about organizational culture when he said, “the creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

Last month’s blog posts had lots about growth. The flip side of growth – decay — was also featured. As you look back at October’s posts or review them tomorrow in the November issue of The Leader Letter, here are points to ponder on whether you’re an acorn or a decaying sheep:

  • Are you changing (growing) or setting yourself up to be changed (decaying)?
  • Are you leading an adaptive culture or one that’s decaying toward being changed?
  • Do you devote extreme care toward who you hire? Or are you planting pine cones culture and expecting mighty oaks?
  • How many of the Fatal Five Failure Factors of Culture Change Efforts are pulling you toward the 50 – 70% that die?
  • Do you Lead, Follow, or Wallow when faced with challenging changes or setbacks? What about your team?
  • Do you have any fatal flaws that are overshadowing your leadership strengths? How do you know?
  • Are you fostering cowardly communication and feeding the moose-on-the-table — or elephants-in-the-room — by not speaking up?

The Dad Joker in me wants to ask if you’re feeling sheepish! But please stop me from my (a)corny puns. OK, I’ll quit “oaking around” so you can grow ahead and read tomorrow’s issue … Help! I’ve fallen to the lowest form of humor and can’t get up …