Perspective, Narrative and Crows

Narrative – [nar-uh-tiv] – a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious

Perspective – [perspektiv]a mental view or prospect




“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln  


In March of 2014 I was walking my faithful German Shepherd, Gus, along a familiar and often traveled path in our neighborhood.

As we made one of our usual turns, we encountered a big black, squawking bird in the branches immediately overhead. An annoying black bird that continued to try and shit on us for the next few days.


It was early, cold, and I was headed into traffic for the day so my first thoughts were less than kind to the bird. In fact pepper spray and pellet guns did cross my mind.

However, after our morning routine continued into the next week, they stopped trying to shit on us and eventually even stopped squawking from their lofty perches.


What at the time I did not realize is that this mating pair had just hatched chicks in one of the trees close to the scene of the altercation.

A couple of months later Gus passed away and in remembrance I continued our morning walk.


Without my companion I started to watch these birds. They were always together and seemed to operate as a cohesive clan, protecting their coveted territory.

And I felt like as I watched and studied them, that I was, in turn, being watched and studied. I would eventually learn that they were American Crows.


I began to observe reminders of high performing teams, military special operations (#RLTW), professional, and athletic: high-bandwidth and frequent communication, coordinated approaches to movement, and sense of ‘clan’ – that commitment to a common set of values and norms in the interest of mutual survival.

I became fascinated.  These weren’t just shitty black birds, they were a clan of American Crows, often ranked alongside chimps and elephants as one of the most intelligent animal species.


It’s early January 2015 and my wife and I take frequent strolls with peanuts looking for our community’s clan of crows. We’ve begun to recognize some of their calls. It’s difficult to identify the individuals but ironically and in an incredible sign of animal intelligence, they have begun to recognize each of us…


In my last post I talked about Context and its influence on our interpretation of our current circumstances. In this post I’d like to introduce Perspective, its influence on our view of Context, and our narratives that shape it. More importantly our ability to change our perspective by more intentionally shaping these narratives.


In the case of our clan of crows minor changes in my context, i.e., observing their behavior, allowed me to change my narrative which in turn completely changed my perspective. The bad, shitty black birds became a caring, multi-generational clan of intelligent crows, and animosity became fascination.


My original post outlined the Fork in the Road, a change in our existential Context, its impact, and its demand that we change our antiquated, industrial age hierarchical approaches with responsive, adaptive system-based approaches.


This will require a change in our perspective and therefore of our narratives. 

Through my own personal experience I’ve witnessed how powerful our changed narratives can be in influencing our perceptions, whether in matters of profession, person or of crows.

Next up – More about intention, focus, and discipline…

Image credit: Shutterstock/Vishnevskiy Vasily


3 Responses to Perspective, Narrative and Crows

  1. Well worded, John. This was both a fun and fascinating read. It reminds me of parenting – our perspective of what we ‘think’ our children are doing don’t always match what their intentions are. I’m often reminded by my three year old to pause before reacting, and think from his perspective what he’s trying to accomplish.

    • 100% great example of the narratives we, as parents, tell ourselves based on the context of some greater period of life.

      I love it and yes, one of my narrative changes was to watch and learn from my kids who haven’t been groomed by the system!!


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