I first learnt about the wonderful drama surrounding the transformation of caterpillars to butterflies while growing up in West Africa. As a child I had chased butterflies, and in many cases followed them as far as my little legs could carry me. Today, as an adult, I watch these beautiful creatures flutter about with a better understanding of that change story on my mind. This egg-to- super fly drama has become a popular metaphor in inspirational as well as movie circles all over the world. Without a doubt, these insects would have earned so much in royalties if they were humans starring in their own life movies.
For those who may not be conversant with this flick, the four-episode butterfly drama in which the caterpillar remains a lead actor, opens with:
- An egg that later transforms into a caterpillar
- That eats so much leaves, and sheds its skin (moult) as it gets bigger and bigger and at some point
- Stops eating and hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins itself a silky cocoon or protective casing from which
- A beautiful butterfly emerges. I have always believed that inside this multi-episode drama lies insights that are beneficial to our quest for transformation-driven leadership.
First, we are told that the caterpillar which emerges from the egg is by nature very hungry, and this hunger shows in the large quantity of leaves it consumes as it moults. Like the caterpillar, our quest for transformational leadership must start with a real hunger for change. This hunger must not stop at the desire stage; it must show in the size of change-related information we ‘eat’ or take in daily.
No one ever said change is an easy, pleasant experience. Change comes with pain.
Truly transformed leaders know they are not meant to crawl – They are meant to fly! Not just fly but fly in beautiful colours.