A long, long time ago, there lived a man in a small, rural village in the mountains of South Africa. One night there was a terrible storm. As the man was out walking the next morning, he saw a strange sight. Up on a ledge, close enough to touch, he saw an eagle chick – hatched only a day or two before and then blown from its nest in the storm. Knowing the chick would die if he didn’t intervene, he brought it back to his village. He put it next to the warm fireplace with the hens and their chicks. “The eagle is the king of the birds,” said the man to his wife and children, “but we will train it to be a chicken or it will die.” Living on the bits and pieces the man put out for the chickens, the eagle grew. Knowing no other life, the eagle clucked, pecked and stayed on the ground just like the chickens. One day a friend dropped in to visit the man. As they sat talking the friend noticed the bird among the chickens. “That’s not a chicken! It’s an eagle”, he said. The man smiled at his friend and said, “It walks like a chicken, it talks like a chicken, it eats like a chicken. It thinks like a chicken, of course, it’s a chicken”. The friend was not convinced.
Our lives are shaped by what we think is true. The eagle in the story adapts and survives the trauma of falling from the nest, but in the process, its true nature is forgotten, and it becomes something less than it was intended to be. Despite being top of the food chain in the avian world, the eagle in the story thinks he is a common, domesticated fowl and so, he acts like one.
Our thoughts have a potent impact on the choices we make, how we see ourselves and how we live. Proverbs 4:23 says it like this, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.” Just like the eagle, we adapt and survive the challenges of life, but sometimes in the process, we forget our true nature and get distorted messages about who we are. We may believe that we are ordinary and untalented, or perhaps we think we are not enough … not intelligent enough, not exciting enough, not eloquent enough, not strong enough, beautiful enough, thin enough… not enough. And in choosing to believe the lies, we become a darkened, diminished version of ourselves.
“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Eagle or chicken? Your choice.
I’m a writer, speaker and coach, who is passionate about helping ordinary people move beyond what is holding them back so that they can live extraordinary lives. You can connect with me here or learn more about coaching with me.