The Lessons of the Honeyguide

In 2007, I went on an INVENTURE with 10 men for 19 days in Tanzania, learning about living on the land of man with three different tribes. Being totally unplugged from all electronics and feeling the power of this earth where man most likely began, was thrilling and soul filling.

One of the huge outcomes from my journey to Tanzania in March was witnessing the honeyguide. This bird is the size of a blue jay and alerts a hunter with a shrill, then guides the hunter to a tree with bees, which hides a honeycomb inside. The honeyguide will circle around the tree to make sure the hunter is on the appropriate path, acting as a personal GPS for finding the cache of honey. There are several varieties of bees, some small and non-stinging, some larger with stinging defenses. The hunter will light a fire and smoke out the stinging variety, but with all the trees, hidden within the hollow of the tree, is a tremendous amount of honeycomb, bee larvae and royal jelly, all delicious.

The honeyguide bird (whose scientific name is Indicator-Indicator) will wait for the hunter to leave some of the honeycomb and beeswax nearby for him as a thank you gift. The story goes that if the honeycomb and beeswax is not done in reverence to the bird, the next time the hunter is looking for wild game, the honey guide will sing loudly warning all animals of the approaching hunter. The Hadza leaders tell this story with the bird being the guide that leads them to life’s sweetness.

In life or leadership coaching, the coach partners with the client to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has in much the same way that the honey guide does for the hunter.

In my role as trainer, author, speaker, and mentor coach, I cherish each opportunity for my clients to find the sweetness that they are seeking. And then remember to pass it on, as the next person may be influence by that guidance.


  • What are you seeking? (hunting for)
  • And who might be your honeyguide?
  • And when you find the sweetness you seek; do you pass some on to the next guide? There’s plenty to go around.

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