Running Into the Storm…Together


By Ricky Harper, C12

There is a great lesson on leadership when one studies the difference in the way cows and buffalo respond to storms.

When a storm is building on the horizon, cows do a very natural thing—they run away from it as quickly as possible. On the surface this makes perfect sense, it is logical behavior, and they continue running away from the storm as it approaches and overtakes them.

On the other hand, buffalo are unique in the animal kingdom. When a storm develops on the horizon, buffalo turn and charge directly into it. By running at the storm, they run straight through it.

Whereas cattle maximize their exposure to the elements and danger, bison minimize their exposure. The buffalo experience less discomfort, exert themselves less overall, and simply are not in harm’s way as long as the cattle are. This behavior is counter-intuitive…and brilliant!

Cows do what many leaders do when faced with a storm. Rather than confront it, they use tactics such as optimism and wishful thinking, or they hide to avoid danger and confrontation.

Whether on the plains of the western U.S. or in the crucible of corporate office suites, our reactions to the storms we face dictate our exposure to their dangers.

Today, American businesses face storms of unprecedented proportions. We are living in a VUCA environment (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and we must confront the storms our businesses face with courage, aggressiveness, clarity and without hesitation. In 2020 alone, we have faced what was unimaginable just a year ago—Covid-19, widespread civil unrest, mandatory shutdown and a contested election.

There is another storm that owners must face—that is the storm of being alone at the top. It is not just cliché; being at the top can be a lonely place. And the storm of that loneliness can limit your ability to innovate and pivot. How many times have you sat in your office wondering what to do, who to turn to, where to go next, or how you were going to make it?
You do not have to be alone. Right now, there is a group of your peers running into the storm together. Called a Peer Advisory group, they are each other’s sounding board. C12 builds Peer Advisory groups of up to 12 non-competing like-minded Christian CEOs. In a Peer Advisory group, leadership is developed by challenging each other’s thinking, studying MBA accredited content together, sharing best practices, and holding each other accountable to excellence. All of this is done on a strong foundation of biblical principles and the understanding that we are just the stewards of the businesses and humans we lead and employ.

We are a ‘buffalo culture;’ we run into the storms and we do it together. We are holding a seat for you!

Learn more about the C12 Group and ‘buffalo culture’ at one of two ‘Kingdom Minded Business’ events: January 21, 11:30–1:00 at the Niceville Chamber, or January 26, 12:00–1:30 at the Destin Chamber. Lunch in included and tickets are available at