Darwin tells us that it is not necessarily the strongest that survive and perpetuate their species but the most ADAPTABLE. Big, powerful lions have been around for one million years but small, crafty chameleons have been around eighty million years.

When it comes to sibling relationships the animal kingdom has some pretty interesting examples of selfless cooperation that we humans can learn from.

Sea Rockets

Sea rocket plants can recognize a sibling (they come from seeds from the same mother plant) and share root space so both will thrive. They even gently intertwine their branches to support one another. When growing next to a non-sibling, they will grow upright and avoid touching and fight hard for all the root space and soil nutrients. Evolution is more than just fighting; cooperating (and, in this case, sibling cooperation) is a natural part of survival.

Wild Turkeys

Wild turkey brothers stay together for life. The largest becomes the leader and the other brothers support and protect him. They fend off rivals and seek out mates for him. Rather than fighting to be the leader, they accept the role of the largest brother and work to help him be successful.

Peregrine Falcons

The fastest-moving animal at 200 mph, these birds can dive at lower-flying birds and have a meal. In order to learn to dive with such speed and accuracy the siblings play a game like tag in which they take turns diving for one another’s tails but gently to avoid injuries. They work together so that all will learn, develop and thrive.

What is the Lesson?

Enterprising Families:

Evolution has paid much attention to cooperation and mutual support and human siblings are just as capable as these animal examples. Set the stage for the success of siblings in the family business by articulating clear roles and responsibilities, development plans and lots of conversation along the way.

Advisors to Enterprising Families:

It is easy to look at the negative effects of fierce competition among siblings but do not forget the lessons of the animals above (as well as from the numerous successful sibling teams in family businesses). With good governance, planning over time and open communication healthy sibling teams lead to thriving cousin consortiums and generations beyond.