Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant? Eat like a bee!

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) landing on a milk th...

© 2007 Fir0002/Flagstaffotos, GNU Free Documentation License

In Rules for Revolutionaries, Guy Kawasaki advises you to eat like a bird and poop like an elephant. By that, he means that you should be a voracious consumer of information (according to him, hummingbirds eat 50% of their body weight in food a day) and you should spread your knowledge as liberally as possible (much like the way an elephant poops a lot. He explains how this helps you see the connections between ideas and create value, and he gives a number of examples of opportunities he found when he did and opportunities he missed when he didn’t.

Rules For Revolutionaries: The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services
Guy Kawasaki

The vivid advice made me think of eating like a bee, an analogy I like more. Bees collect nectar from lots of different flowers, pollinating them along the way. (Some even intentionally gather pollen!) Even by itself, this pollination already serves the ecosystem. Bees take the nectar, digest it, and structure it into beautifully ordered hexagons that hold lots of energy. They do this along with lots of other bees in a highly social activity.

And of course one can make all sorts of puns regarding bees and the International Business Machines corporation, of which I am part. Indeed, I, bee, am.

So how do these thoughts translate into real life?

I love reading. Being close to one of the largest public library systems in the world means that there’s a never-ending rotation of books through our bookshelves. I read tons of books about business, management, leadership, marketing, consulting, entrepreneurship, personal finance, productivity, self-development, relationships, creativity, and writing. I also occasionally throw in books about history, sewing, psychology, mathematics, science, popular culture, and fiction recommended by friends. And then there’s the occasional piece of mental junk food (Regency romances and the like). I read lots of blog posts, too – they’re an excellent way to get different insights and fresh perspectives.

I also love writing, putting together diagrams and presentations, and exploring other ways to explain things. That’s either elephant-pooping or pollinating and making honey, depending on which analogy you prefer. ;)

This has been working out really well for me. The more I learn, the more I share. The more I share, the more I learn.

Some people have told me that they don’t blog because they don’t know if they have anything interesting to share. A bee picks up pollen in the course of its everyday work. It does not stop to ask the next flower if this pollen is interesting enough or worth sharing. It simply shares and lets the world work the rest of the magic.

What are you picking up while you’re learning, and what can you share with others?