Does Falco provide us with a lesson about love in the workplace? I believe so.
A few weeks ago, I was visiting family in New York City, when I decided to take a late afternoon walk in Central Park. I had spent the morning on the north side of the park looking for, and photographing, birds. As I headed out, I once again took my camera and headed to the south side.
As I made my way through the park, I noticed a crowd gazing into a tree. Several had cameras with a telephoto lens, so I knew there had to be something exceptional.
Moving closer to the crowd, I was introduced to Falco, a Eurasian Eagle-Owl, calming sitting on a branch apparently unphased by the gawkers. This owl species is found in Europe and Asia (per the name). If a Eurasian Eagle-Owl would have been spotted in Spain, Italy, Lebanon, or Mongolia it would not make the news, but here he was in New York, thousands of miles outside his native habitat. Falco had escaped the Central Park Zoo two weeks earlier and was now making his home in the park. Grateful I had brought my camera along; I took a few photos of the newest attraction in the park.
For over a month, a debate has raged regarding attempts to recapture Falco. He had escaped after his enclosure had been vandalized, presumably by someone who wanted him freed from the confines of the zoo. Perhaps they thought they were doing Falco a favor by setting him free. Perhaps they thought it was an act of love.
Much like I did as a child while watching the dog catchers chase a stray dog, many New Yorkers have rooted for the owl in his attempts to evade his captors. At first, there was worry that Falco would starve since he had been in captivity his entire life and had never hunted on his own. However, it wasn’t long before his instincts kicked in and he proved to be a successful hunter, feasting on park rats.
Falco is free. Falco is eating. Falco appears to be healthy. But was his release a well-thought-out act of love?
Falco Provides a Lessen in a Wiser Love
Two thousand years ago the Apostle Paul was writing to Christians in the region of Philippi and he had this to say about love, “And this I pray, that your love may overflow still more and more in
real knowledge and discernment, so that you may discover the things that are excellent…”
“In real knowledge and discernment.” That brief phrase shouts that some forms of love can be lacking wisdom. This is where Falco can serve as an example to us.
While the perpetrators of the zoo escape may have thought they were acting in the best interest of the bird, the wisdom of such an act is in question. To borrow from Paul, their actions may have been lacking in “real knowledge and discernment.”
A recent article[i] by Kharishar Kahfi in Audubon, states “After the zoo fugitive learned to hunt rats in Central Park, some fans are cheering for his freedom. But ornithologists argue he should return to his enclosure, for his sake and for that of local wildlife.” Perhaps the ornithologists have real knowledge.
The dangers to Falco are legitimate. Death and confusion can result in birds of prey eating rats with high poison levels. There is also the danger of collisions with buildings and automobiles. Nearly two years ago, another Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Gladys, escaped a Minnesota zoo and two weeks later was found dead from a collision with a vehicle. Sometimes our acts of love result in the death of the beloved.
Love in the Workplace
When it comes to the workplace, there are times when we attempt to love. Yet, we must ask if the love we show in the workplace exhibits real knowledge and discernment. Or are our attempts at love harmful because we don’t love wisely?
Employees who feel love will be more productive. However, we know there is a higher motivation for love. Reasonable humans will all agree that love should be present in our lives, including on the job. Yet, here is the question: Is the love expressed in the workplace always the best form of love?
Love is love, but not all love is equal. As with freeing Falco, not all acts of love exhibit the wisest form of love.
If you have the responsibility of providing feedback to an employee, do you express love by avoiding anything that might make them upset, or is it a higher form of love to be honest and transparent to help them develop in their career? There is a reason they call it “tough love.”
Is it a wise form of love to show appreciation to an employee by bringing them onstage to receive an award when the public spotlight is something they abhor?
Loving according to knowledge and discernment takes time. It requires being available to employees and coworkers. It requires listening to their stories. It requires putting ourselves in their shoes. It requires thinking long-term.
Gary Chapman and Paul White devoted a book to “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” where they outlined how we are to express appreciation by knowing how best to communicate with someone based on their personal needs and likes. If we treat everyone the same, we are not loving with real knowledge.
Before expressing our love, perhaps we should pause and ask the following questions:
- Will my love feel like love in the short-term, but detract from long-term goals?
- Have I considered the unintended consequences of my attempts at love?
- Are my acts of love self-serving, drawing attention to myself instead of truly aiming to benefit another?
- How will my expression of love for one person or group impact others in the organization?
- Have I taken the time to understand what someone most needs from me?
Whether it be the love we show toward our family and friends, our passionate devotion to causes, or our expressions of love in the workplace, may we learn to love wisely.
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