Keystone Species

The Sockeye Salmon

It is a humble and amazing fish. 

In the northwestern part of the United States, the Sockeye will swim over a thousand miles from where it is born to the Pacific Ocean.

After about three years living in the ocean, it makes the reverse journey, swimming up rivers and streams (jumping up S Curves) to reach Redfish Lake so it can spawn before it dies.

The Sockeye is also known as a keystone species, meaning it influences the survival or reproduction of other species. 

During the spawning journey, predators like bears gorge on the glut of salmon. Their decaying bodies release a surge of nutrients into the sterile mountain water, making life possible for their offspring as well as a number of Redfish Lake’s animals and plants. 

Without the ecosystem, the Sockeye couldn’t live. Without the Sockeye, the ecosystem would collapse.  

We all live, work, and grow in relation to ecosystems. We constantly draw resources from and contribute to our ecosystems. 

We take for granted how the physical elements of our environment affect us. Take sunlight – compared to a windowless workspace; we know a simple window allowing natural light will elevate your workplace and your mood. 

We also often miss how we relate to one another impacts the ecosystem. And, like Redfish Lake, each ecosystem has keystone species. 

While I cannot emphasize enough that we are responsible for making our own life decisions, we have to acknowledge that we achieve very little by ourselves. Just as you cannot grow without others, there are some people who cannot grow without you, which makes you their keystone species.

Sadly, we also know some people take more than they give, leaving a barren ecosystem for their fellow humans. Your ecosystems’ health depends not only on what you get but also on what you give. 

This brings us to Howard Morgan, a man who started a company at 13, which now generates $130 million a year in revenue and was our recent guest on the Disrupt Yourself podcast. Listening to Howard, who tells fantastic and insightful stories full of wisdom, I had the a-ha that he is a major contributor to the ecosystems of others. He works hard to create a culture of trust and respect wherever he goes. 

Howard Morgan. Disrupt Yourself Podcast Ep 247

Howard talked about how he wanted to spend the rest of his life. “For me,” he said, “it’s about learning to be a positive influencer, not an expert. [It’s] how to help others be the best they can be without me. I can be the conduit and help that, but I’m not the answer giver… My job is simple. It’s to get people to places they never thought they were capable of.” 

In his work, he helps others feel like they are capable, that they too can give back, and contribute to their ecosystems. That is something we can all do. 

Are you generously contributing to your ecosystem? 

As always, thank you for being here!

Happy Holidays,

P.S.  The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to get serious about your growth as an individual or the growth of your team. On January 20, join me for a unique online gathering: Begin, Grow, Pivot, and Learn. Join Apolo Ohno, Pamay Bassey, Michael Bungay Stanier, and me for a 90-minute, interactive experience. You’ll leave with insights and tools to grow as you hope to in 2022. AND, If you pre-order a book, you will receive a free ticket to our online gathering.

P.P.S. If you’ve already pre-ordered the book, just let me know…, and for those of you who responded to me last week, I will respond shortly!


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