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NIëL STEINMANN PRESENTING LESSONS FROM LIONS 14 |       September 2016
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Lesson 14: The signature of the King - It's footprint... "SPOOR"

It is time to conclude on the lion stories. It has been a wonderful 15 months during which I shared with you some of my prized moments and lessons learnt from lions. In this last lesson I would like to share with you my greatest fascination with lions. This time it is not a characteristic or a particular skill or some unique ability. It is a physical attribute they possess that captivated me most. The lion’s paw.  You will undoubtedly notice those massive paws when a lion casually strolls through the bush. It is not only the sheer size that grabs your attention, but it is the apparent weight and power of these weapons that impress their status as the apex predator.

A Lion has four distinct toes – ordinarily no claws show in the track unless the animal walks in deep mud, running or when scraping the ground when scent marking with the hind feet. Claws aid in grip when the lion accelerates. Tracks are usually 100-150mm in length, depending on the size and sex of the animal. Male’s tracks are slightly longer and broader than that of the female. .

Each paw is equipped with soft pads to make the lion’s movements inaudible. Like most carnivores, lions are digitigrade walkers. This means they essentially walk on their toes. But, the majority of the animal's weight is borne by the main paw pads, which would correspond in humans to the palm of the hand at the base of the fingers. Extra bones in the toe joints give the toes a wide range of motion. Like a domestic cat, lion paws have retractable claws. This means that their sharp claws can be stretched out and then drawn back again.  The claws on a male lion can be 40 millimetres or more from the base to the tip along the curve. It is incredibly robust and sharp.  A fifth toe on the front paw has what is called a dewclaw, which acts like a thumb for holding down prey when eating.

The claws are made of keratin, which is the same substance as our finger and toenails.  They consist of lots of layers, which eventually break off to reveal an even sharper claw underneath.  Lions care for their claws by scratching trees to keep them razor sharp.

These magnificent paws leave a distinctive print and it remains one of the most chilling discoveries while walking in the veld. The tracking of these animals is both mystical and fascinating to experience.  The spoor of a lion is unmistakable. It says “Ngonyma” the king was here.

Are others fascinated by your "spoor"?                                                                                      
What does your spoor look like and what does it say about you?  Will others remember it or be fascinated by it?

I noted a wonderful quote that said “A legacy isn't only about leaving what you earned but also what you learned.”  It doesn't call for wealth, fame or even power—you don't have to be a Mandela or Ghandi to leave a positive mark right now, one that will linger long after you're gone.

Some pointers to consider that will help shape your “footprint”.

Find what is important to you?

Questions you could answer:

  • How do you want your life to impact on others?
  • What are your values?
  • If you had to do one thing to improve your world, what would your contribution be?
  • How can you leave your mark on whatever you do?
  • What legacy would you like to leave in your family, professionally and spiritually?
The answer to these introspective questions will help you develop a meaningful philosophy of life that goes beyond just creating financial wealth.  Knowing what's important, what drives you and how you want to be remembered creates tremendous clarity.  Knowing what's important, what drives you and how you want to be remembered creates tremendous clarity  in how you should live your life.

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, A Leaders legacy reminds us "when we ask ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter." When you reflect on your legacy it gives you a compass to help you move with purpose and determination even in the most difficult and challenging times.

Leave a legacy of leadership

What are you doing to develop the leadership pipeline in your company? John C. Maxwell says that "A leader's lasting value is measured by succession." He calls it the principle of multiplication. This is also the central theme in my book called “Raising Giant Killers”

Develop a plan not only to pass on your technical mastery and knowledge of your business or profession, but also your wisdom and your leadership philosophy. Teach about the importance of people, how to creating lifelong customers, balancing profits with ethics and doing well while doing good.                                                                                                     

What are the leadership lessons that you should pass on?

Your significance lies in being a mentor for others.

There is a difference between success and significance. Success is when we add value to our own lives but significance is when we add value to others. Mentorship is about significance.

People desperately need the value of authentic mentoring. This applies to families, communities, churches, schools and business.

As a business owner, chances are, other people helped you on your path to success. Why not pay it forward by helping young entrepreneurs make their mark? Now take this statement and add your career title and make it your own.

Are you a mensch?

Calling someone a mensch is the greatest compliment because a mensch is a person who is decent and honourable, a person of high integrity who genuinely cares for his fellow man. A mensch always looks for an opportunity to do good in life, to be of help to others and to give without regard for anything in return. A mensch doesn't cut corners in their relationships with others. You always feel safe in the presence of a mensch because you instinctively know that they will not deceive you, undermine you or diminish you in any way. Being called a mensch is the ultimate compliment you can receive.

Think about your footprint and answer If not now, when? It's never too soon to start your legacy—to pursue both success and significance. Where can I step today that will leave a lasting footprint?
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