It’s 4:00 p.m. on a Friday, and you get a message from a client asking if you have two minutes to talk. Your stomach drops. What do you do? Do you say no and send them a meeting invite for next week? You could easily ignore the message until Monday. What would it feel like to pick up the phone and tackle it head on?
When faced with challenges, the best leaders lean into mindset management. They know how to put aside fear of the unknown, and they’re willing to have difficult conversations, confront challenges, and charge directly into the storm. In other words, they know how to “be the buffalo.”
Charge Directly into the Storm
I first learned about the idea of being the buffalo from a colleague. His company logo includes a buffalo, and I asked him where that idea came from. He told me a fascinating story about how buffalo in the wild respond to inclement weather, and I loved it. It really resonated with the role of mindset in leadership development.
The concept behind being the buffalo is pretty simple. When storms approach, most animals take cover. Cows run away from the storm, which actually prolongs their exposure and suffering. Buffalo, on the other hand, are one of the only animals that take storms head on. They don’t just stand their ground; they actually charge directly into the storm. They know that they’ll get through it faster and come out on the other side of it if they run toward—and through—the eye of the storm.
It’s simple, but it’s so powerful! It’s all about adapting to your environment, facing the unknown, and being proactive. I’ve found that you can apply the idea of being the buffalo to help you face storms as a leader, whether in business or in your personal life.
Benefits of Being the Buffalo
Taking on the mindset of being the buffalo in challenging situations isn’t easy, but it produces favorable results that benefit both you and your team. In fact, the proactive mindset of being the buffalo is an integral part of practicing responsible leadership. Consider the following benefits of being the buffalo:
- Save time: Challenges pass quicker when you charge toward them. You reach a resolution faster when you take on challenges instead of avoiding them or procrastinating.
- Better preparation: You can see what’s coming toward you when you face storms head on versus turning your back to run away. When you can see what you’re dealing with, you can identify what’s required to get through it.
- Minimize stress: Being the buffalo saves you unnecessary stress and worry. Brené Brown writes about the stories we tell ourselves when we’re under extreme stress—and how those stories are usually much worse than reality.
- More resources: When you unite your team and charge into a storm together, you have more resources. There’s strength in numbers.
- Reduce damage: It’s usually easier to weather the storm when you take it head on and address it immediately. Think about a PR crisis. You prevent ongoing damage when you don’t drag it out.
When you take a step back and look at the big picture, it’s easier to embrace the mindset of being the buffalo. It helps you get through the present moment, and it often allows you to put your team first. You’ll find that the initial discomfort of charging directly into the storm is worth it.
Facing Challenges in Leadership and Life
Implementing a mindset of being the buffalo begins with self-reflection. Think about your natural response to difficult situations. How can you be more proactive? What skills do you need to work on?
Being the buffalo involves leadership skills like grit, confidence, and courage. You have to train your mind to take things head on and resist the temptation to procrastinate, which requires time management skills. We’re all guilty of ignoring problems and putting off things we don’t want to deal with, but becoming aware of our tendencies is the first step toward overcoming them.
Practicing the Buffalo Mindset
Storms are inevitable—in business and in life. You can’t control the storm, but you can control your mindset. Being the buffalo means having a leadership mindset where you’re not afraid to take on adversity head on and build resilience when facing challenges.
Questions to Consider
How do you respond to the storms in your life?
Do you tend to procrastinate or avoid things? Do you run away from challenges?
What’s one area of your life where you need to be the buffalo?
I’d love to help you learn how to take on the mindset of being the buffalo. Contact me to learn more about leadership advising, coaching services, and additional resources.