You May Have Cicadas Too

Meet the Cicada.

If you’re in middle Tennessee, you need no introduction.  But for the rest of you around the country, let me introduce you to the plague of the cicada.

These buggers are C R A Z Y!

They squawk.  They screech.  They scream and  they dive-bomb you.  They land on you quietly and at the opportune moment, they screech really loud and completely freak you out.  (The unofficial stat for cicada-induced pee-your-pants accidents is reaching the tens of thousands.)

Seriously, they are freakish.

Most people respond to the cicadas in one of three ways:

  1. Fear – full-on freakout fests every time a cicada comes near
  2. Avoidance – these are the people who totally lock themselves away for the 6 weeks that the cicadas are here
  3. Curious fascination – this is where I fall.  I find great amusement in watching the cicadas torment everyone 🙂
  4. Redirection – about 1 in every 100 people deal with the cicadas calmly and just move them out of their way

Occasionally the cicadas have good reason for their screams, like the ones I nearly step on, but most of the time they are just wreaking havoc.  They have no purpose but to frustrate you and distract you.

And while those of us in middle Tennessee might be dealing with the insect version of the cicada, as leaders you are likely dealing with cicadas all the time…

Your figurative cicadas are the complainers, the screechers, the dive-bombers and the annoying voices that are constantly distracting you from the vision you are trying to accomplish.  Your cicada could be an employee, a church member, family or friend.

And much like the insect cicada, how you respond to them completely impacts your life.  If you fear them or avoid them they are going to continue to scream and wreak havoc on your vision.  You’ll shrink back waiting for them to go away, and unlike the cicadas that we’re dealing with here in Nashville, these cicadas don’t hibernate for 13 years.  They are here to stay.

You might start with curious fascination.  Why are these folks all worked up?  Is there concern legitimate?  Perhaps you need to listen.

And once you’ve listened, you need to determine how to redirect them.  Do they just need to be realigned with your vision and plan?  Do they need to move on because their goals are different from yours?

Figurative cicadas are a part of life.  They are big part of what we do as leaders.

How you deal with them makes all the difference.

How are you responding to the figurative cicadas in your life?  Do you need to move from fear and avoidance to listening and redirecting?


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  • bethanyplanton June 1, 2011  

    Great analogy! We have this type of thing at the nonprofit I work for. Many times when people come back from being in Kazakhstan for about 10 days, they have all these ideas of what new steps our nonprofit should take. We have to learn to take their excitement and harness it for the vision of the nonprofit. 

  • @kylereed June 1, 2011  

    Well after taking a cicada to the eye the other day, I realize that often I am more startled at first but then regain my composer and move on. 

    Sometimes you have to flik them off your shirt or arm, but you continue to move on.
    The same in some ways can be said about the leadership “cicada’s” 
    Not that I dismis them, but often times I do not give them the space or margin to ruin my day

  • Kuartodeziglo June 2, 2011  

    In Sonora Mexico we call ’em CHICHARRA and these bugs make a very loud noise. They are on the Summer Season. Mostly between June to August.