Wisdom of Wolves

Towery, Twyman. (1995) The Wisdom of Wolves. Franklin, TN: Wessex House

I think the following credo could work for our school cultures.  Read it and see what you think.

WOLF CREDO:        Respect the elders

                                    Teach the young

                                    Cooperate with the pack


                                    Play when you can

                                    Hunt when you must

                                    Rest in between


                                    Share your affections

                                    Voice your feelings

                                    Leave your mark                                   July 17, 1988 Del Goetz


Human and animals have existed on the planet forever.  Many cultures have learned from watching animals interact with each other and nature. This is the earth’s balance.  As some species become extinct, we lose the possibility of learning about their culture. They understood that they were a part of nature, rather than nature being a part of them.

When we believe the humans are superior and can change the world against nature, we get into trouble.  Too much ego makes us vulnerable. As Peter Senge said in his book The Fifth Discipline, “Nature bats last.”

A wolf pack remains a model of playfulness, teamwork, efficiency, and sharing.  Our educational  system is staggering, while the wolf pack, as always, puts the education, protection, parenting, and mentoring of their young first.

The following are some excerpts from this book might be useful. There are more heading and concepts than represented in this summary.  I hope these passages are helpful in creating learning cultures.


The lead wolf expends the most energy.  He is the trailblazer, crashing through the soft snow, allowing each succeeding wolf to conserve energy.  When the lead wolf tires, he may drop off to the side and allow the next wolf to assume the lead positions. Each member must be prepared too not only carry their own load, but to assume greater leadership at any timeThe viability of the organization may well depend upon it.

This is why we want to develop leadership at all levels including the students we serve.  Include them or be prepared to move toward more control.  Control is the opposite of trust.

A company is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.           Morris Weeks

We don’t seem to realize that our spouse and children aren’t nearly as interested in our job title as our taking time to relate to them as equals.  I wish I had accepted this earlier in life.

Unity Through Uniqueness

The secret is that the wolves are always careful not to duplicate each other.  Each wolf assume a unique pitch respecting the distinctiveness of the other members of the pack.  They are one, but they are unique, each contributing to the organization in their own individual way. Outstanding teams consist of individuals with differing gifts.

Diversity strengthens.  By this I mean we need all the skill sets we can acquire, all the multiple perspectives from people, and the commitment to civility in order to attract and connect with a world that continues to expand in diverse ways.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.     Martin Luther King, Jr.


What I know doesn’t impress me… what I don’t know excites me. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.                                                                                           Samuel Johnson

Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.                   William Arthur Ward

    • Inquisitive ones also offer greater opportunities for success.
    • What has amazed you today?
    • How are you at using your intelligence in unique and creative ways?

Intellectual curiosity has been identified by Adam Bryant as one of the most effective qualities of a leader.  Leaders these days need to know how to ask questions rather than telling others what to think.  As the degree of psychological safety increases, the pooled intelligence will increase and creativity will surface to solve problems.


The attitude of the wolf can be summed up simply:  It is a constant visualization of success.  Wolves have mastered the technique of focusing their energies toward the activities that will lead to the accomplishment of their goals.

Which way do you look at problems.  Insurmountable or in what way can we solve this?

Get the right perspective.  When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, “He’s so big we can never kill him.”  David looked at the same giant and thought, “He’s so big, how can I miss?”   Russ Johnson


While the wolf pack may be nature’s must formidable hunting machine, they have a failure rate of approximately 90%.  They never stop doing the little things, attending to every detail as they canvass endless miles each year in search of their prey.

Consider the following as reframing failure into feedback.  Once we receive feedback, we are able to use that information for feedforward (Goldsmith) to plan what to do next.  Adding to your repertoire provides more options to solve more problems.

Failure has no relevance to the wolf. The mistakes made are not viewed as failure, but become a part of the wolf’s collective knowledge.  Failure is an attitude, not a reality.

A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than a whole book of praise after a success.   Anonymous


Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.    Confucius

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another. Walter Elliott

Perseverance is best taught by example. Students, staff, and community are watching.


Wolves’ love of play is never exhausted, regardless of age.  Through experimental play, wolves learn how to acquire food and sustenance.  They also become physically stronger and mentally tougher through play. 

Don’t get so busy making a living that you don’t know what you’re living for.         Unknown

Southwest Airlines is a company that seems to thrive on zaniness.  It also means success.  This “low fare” airline has been rated number one by airline passengers.  Fun at work and terrific customer service obviously go hand in hand.

Creating positive cultures, including play, fun, and creative games can energize people.  There are many resources about happiness, laughter, and play making the culture more creative and increasing commitment to the goals of the company.

Death & Survival

Younger wolves respect the unique gifts the elders have to bestow upon them, which is shown by the deference they show them. Therefore, death to a single wise wolf, while damaging, is not usually fatal to the pack, for the younger wolves have been prepared.

The viable organization prizes training, coaching, and mentoring.            

    • Do you let others show that you would appreciate learning form them?
    • Do you know that studies who that people who have mentors have more successful personal and professional lies?
    • Are you willing to set aside your own ego to benefit from others’ experiences?


The wolf pack places education and training first, and their organization has stood the test of time.

In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that makes them successful human beings.                          Ann Landers

In human organizations we can use change as a tool, or let it use us.

Not everything that is faced can be changed.  But nothing can be changed until it is faced.            James Baldwin

Loyalty is also being able to speak truth to power. Wise leaders know who they can trust to tell them the truth.  John Gardner said, “Pity the poor leader who has unfriendly critics and uncritical friends.”


All things are connected… Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

                                                                                                            Chief Seattle, 1854

A video about Wolves and the World