Relationship Lessons from Geese

Relationship Lessons from Geese

I was at an event where Dan Hampton was the keynote speaker. He ended his talk with “Five Lessons from Geese” which he explained that he didn’t write, but it’s so powerful that he likes to share this story. I was so moved by his words that I googled “Lessons From Geese” and found that this inspirational story had been in circulation for many years. I’ve add my commentary as “life application” tips after each “lesson”. If you haven’t read the geese lessons before, then you’re in for a treat. If you have previously read them, then it never hurts to be reminded of good advice.

When geese migrate, they fly in V-shaped formation to conserve energy and coordinate communication. There are five key lessons that can be learned from studying this act of nature. These lessons provide wonderful examples on the importance of teamwork and how it can have a profound and powerful effect on our relationships. When we use these five principles in our personal and business life, they help us foster and encourage a level of passion and energy in ourselves, as well as those family members, friends, and business associates that we interact with.

Lesson 1 – The Importance of Achieving Goals  When geese fly in formation, they create their own unique form of teamwork. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in their ‘V’, the whole flock adds at least 71% more flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

Life Application: Do you find it difficult to work with others? One of my favorite acronyms is T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More. When we have a sense of community and focus, we create trust and can help each other achieve our goals.

Lesson 2 – The Importance of Coordination 
When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly moves back in line to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front. In addition to conserving energy, the second benefit to the V formation is that it makes it easier to keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in formation assists with the communication and coordination within the group. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason.

Life Application: Are you aligned with like-minded individuals? If we had as much sense as geese, we would stay in formation and constant communication with those headed where we want to go. When you pick a goal, hang out with other people who have similar goals and desires. If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. If you want to soar with the eagles, don’t fly with the turkeys.

Lesson 3 – The Importance of Sharing When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back in the ‘V’ and another goose flies to the point position. In this way, the geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest. The authors of a 2001 Nature article stated that pelicans that fly alone beat their wings more frequently and have higher heart rates than those that fly in formation. It follows that birds that fly in formation glide more often and reduce energy expenditure (Weimerskirch, 2001).

Life Application: Do you know you don’t have to do it all? It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks. The beauty of effective delegation is that you can do less and achieve more. Sharing the work also gives others opportunities to learn, grow, and shine. Tap into the skills, capabilities, talents, and resources all around you.

Lesson 4 – The Importance of Empathy 
When a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out of formation, two other geese follow it down to the ground to help and protect it. 
They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with the group.

Life Application: Are you a ‘fair-weather’ or ‘ride-or-die’ friend? Even geese know the importance of standing by and taking care of our teammates. Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.

Lesson 5 – The Importance of Encouragement  The geese flying in the back ‘HONK’ to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Life Application: Is your ‘honking’ encouraging? My grandmother always said, “you can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar”. In atmospheres where there is encouragement and praise, productivity increases. Speak positive words to all those you encounter. And remember to also speak positive words to yourself.


Deanna Burrell is the author of the explosive novel, Single Girl Summer. Described as “If Waiting to Exhale and Sex and the City procreated, the bouncing baby would read like Single Girl Summer,” the novel tells the story of three women navigating the ups and downs of life during one special summer in Chicago. Find out more at

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