Being Stung By Leading Organizational Change

This blog is inspired by a book of poems and drawings called Falling Up by Shel Silverstein.  Here it is:


Three Stings

George got stung by a bee and said,

“I wouldn’t have got stung if I’d stayed in the bed.”

Fred got stung and we heard him roar,

“What am I being punished for?”

Lew got stung and we heard him say,

“I learned somethin’ about bees today.”


I remember as a child not really wanting to go outside and play because of all of the dangers there compared to the comfort of the fortress of solitude of my bedroom.  One of the things I was always afraid of was being stung by a bee.  And then it happened.  I finally got stung.  At first, I was like George in the poem … “I never should have gone outside!” But, then something else happened – once I got stung, it just wasn’t that scary anymore.  Oh, it hurt, but it didn’t kill me.  Humm, sounds like IT Transformation to me, or more generally, leading organizational change.


Destiny brought this poem to me on the heels of getting stung pretty badly while leading IT change at Goddard Space Flight Center. Something didn’t go my way. I reacted like Fred this time – what am I being punished for when I am doing what is being asked of me? What did I do wrong? So, I simply did what any seasoned and mature executive would do – (1) cried; (2) drank cosmopolitans in large quantities; and (3) went to Las Vegas for the weekend.


I recall a wonderful panel of CIOs that I had the pleasure of listening to.  Two of the CIOs had both left the government, but had been CIOs of the same Department.  They were talking about the bane of every CIO’s existence – consolidating email infrastructure.  The first CIO said, that as he looked back to see what his successors did, he wished that he [got out of the bed] started that initiative knowing that it needed to be done.  The second CIO said, yes, he started it, but he got treated so badly by the Department for doing what was asked of him [he was being punished] and was weary.  I admired their candor and admired that they shared their leadership lessons.  And I learned about bees that day.


So, I’ve dried my tears, sobered up, and didn’t hit the jackpot, but I learned another lesson about bees and I was reminded of something I learned about change leadership.  It stings. 




Linda Cureton, CIO/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

8 thoughts on “Being Stung By Leading Organizational Change”

  1. I love your post on this poem.
    I grew up raised by my parents to be afraid for my safety and the outside world. I never got to experience the real world til i moved out. I felt so naive.

    This poem is just what I needed thanks!


    Marshall Lawson
    Sr Account Manager

  2. I like the message of this blog. The forging ahead with preparation for and full acknowledgment of risk, is the essence of leadership. Now having been stung and survived you can speak to the sting from many perspectives…in particular that the bee dies after having inflicted the sting.

  3. Dear TeaMWork:

    Yes, I forgot that about bees … they do die after stinging. That sort of puts courageous leadership in a different perspective. Maybe I should welcome the sting???

    Linda Y. Cureton

  4. Love the poem and message.

    It’s a mystery. Follow direction, communicate, communicate, communicate.

    One lesson that I learned early on was to build up my savings so that if that “Ouch” occured, hopefully I have built enough credit that it does not bankrupt me.

    I am glad that you had a 3-step program in place. Now, that is risk management. 🙂

  5. Great post. Going through change here also. Lottsa bees. And if it makes you feel any better…. our CEO uses Eudora.

  6. Dear Danny:

    Eudora? So sorry you have to go through that pain. That’s Rudy-poo.

    Linda Cureton

  7. Sujest you to write a poem about Spase sheep – silver stings.
    It will be some kind of of history of spase program of US.

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