Wrestling with a Greased Pig

By | July 11, 2019

[July 11, 2019] Leadership comes in many styles, and sometimes it hits you that even an occasional oddball style can work well if enough hard work and thinking are correctly applied. It reminds me of the time, as a young child, I was in a small mud pit with a bunch of other boys and a greased pig. Any boy catching the pig would get $20; a high motivating factor.

There was a bit of weirdness in this chaotic boy-mud-pig scene but trying to catch a greased pig teaches some valuable life’s lessons. I won’t cover them all but here are a few:

  1. Life is hard (harder if you’re stupid).
  2. You can’t get something for nothing.
  3. Stay focused on your objective.
  4. Avoid reckless people.
  5. Nothing beats a team to get the job done.
  6. Sometimes it takes more than hard work.1
  7. Control your emotions.
  8. Pigs in the mud are damn hard to catch and near impossible if greased.

“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” – George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, polemicist, and political activist

Later in my military career, I often thought back to those times as a little boy and what were the specific events that had a profound influence on me and my leadership abilities. This was one of them. Frustration, anger, and eventually calm as I realized (albeit very slowly) that the point of the pig chase was to have fun, not to catch the pig.

Those who came to nearly catching the pig were only when two or more boys teamed up to corral the pig in a corner, then pounce all at once. Such a tactic came with risks. One boy broke his arm, and another had a long gash on his forehead. But I remember the chase and I’m sure others do too.

Getting mad solved nothing and made it more difficult to catch the pig. You had to remain calm, stay focused, and jump on the pig when the thing slowed down. I had my hands around him many times, but he just slipped away. Leaders often find themselves in such no-win situations. Sometimes the best thing they can do is muddle through, encourage others to maintain a good attitude, and learn from it.

I still believe no one ever caught a greased pig; it’s simply too difficult for young boys.


  1. https://www.theleadermaker.com/it-takes-more-than-hard-work/
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

26 thoughts on “Wrestling with a Greased Pig

  1. Greg Heyman

    Another great article. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield.

    1. Gil Johnson

      I seem to be agreeing with you a lot these days, Greg. Much appreciated.

    2. Tomas Clooney

      I found this article to be one of the best in a long time. I’m a regular reader although I don’t comment that much. But, the entertainment value and educational part has made me rethink making notes and commenting. Thanks for another opportunity to learn about leadership in just a couple of minutes reading.

  2. Tracey Brockman

    Today’s article was just too funny! My wife asks why I keep coming back to this website and telling her about what’s happening. It’s like living in another time; plenty of lessons (both good and bad) and interesting stories. Some of the things you do, Gen Satterfield, would get you in trouble today with the thought police. Ha Ha. Great. Keep up the good works.

    1. Bryan Lee

      One of the main reasons too, that I keep coming back. Lessons in leadership are not easily found on the web without a lot of junk, advertising, and messy format. This is a clean, ad-free site that gets right to the point. The comments section is also highly worth reading.

        1. Shawn C. Stolarz

          Just what I was going to write. Thanks. I like the format too.

    2. Joe Omerrod

      Good comment Tracey. I too love the entertainment factor.

  3. Drew Dill

    Another entertaining and educational article. Storytelling is one of those methods that leaders use to ensure their vision is carried out. I appreciate you showing us how to integrate a story into an important topic.

  4. Darryl Sitterly

    Great article about life’s lessons and how we get them. I never wrestled a pig but I did ride horses when in my teenage years. Love the animals, the responsibility and learning about how to get along with other people who also had a desire to care for these large animals. I’m trying to study more about the relationship between people and horses. Great topic if anyone is interested.

    1. Georgie B.

      Wow, very good Darryl. I’m sure this is interesting and satisfying. I too cared for horses in my youth.

      1. Tony B. Custer

        Hi Georgie, hope you’ve been well. I too cared for horses and the lessons in life have never left me. it also gave me respect for all living things.

    2. The Kid 1945

      Thank you Darryl. The point you made about horses and people applies to our daily lives. Now, most folks will not know this but animals are part of human evolution and we have a caretakers responsibility. Have a great day all. 🙂

      1. Jonnie the Bart

        Great to see you back, “the kid”. You are correct; the human-animal connection is something no one can ignore. We all should be educated, practically, in how to care for and respect animals. The world would be a better place if we did.

  5. Dale Paul Fox

    These are, I’m sure, just a few of life’s lessons we gain from having fun as kids. There are many that help us be better persons and better leaders. Obviously, this one helped you. Thanks for the article that got my attention. I’ll be sharing with my co-workers today.

  6. Eric Coda

    I never knew anyone who wrestled greased pigs before. Great topic and article.

    1. Maureen S.

      My brother wrestled a few pigs when we were kids. Lots of fun for all.

    2. José Luis Rodriguez

      I did once when I was about 12 years old. Interesting, muddy, and fun.

  7. Army Captain

    You have a knack for getting a message across convincingly with humor.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      I was thinking the same thing. I’ll also be sharing this article with my High School pupils today. I find they see these stories by Gen. Satterfield as a real pleasure and they consistently tell me how much they love the stories.

      1. Jake Tapper, Jr.

        Good comment, Mr. TJ. Thank you.

    2. Mike Baker

      Spot on comment. Just what I was also thinking.

Comments are closed.