The Pursuit of Excellence,
Years ago I read a book by Ted W Engstrom titled “The Pursuit of Excellence”’ One of Engstrom’s illustrations graphically demonstrates some peoples lack of drive and courage and being caught up in the cycle of mediocrity.
He tells a story about a young American Indian brave who whilst out on the prairie, found an eagle egg and took it back to his village and put it in a nest of prairie chickens.
The bird hatched and joined the brood of chickens. It was obviously different, with its majestic colors and big strong wings, but it grew up believing it was just another prairie chicken.
It scratched the dirt, pecked at seeds, clucked, cackled and thrashed its wings around to fly a few feet off the ground to a new pecking spot.
Why would a beautiful strong majestic bird do that? Because that’s what his peers, the other prairie chickens did.
One day it looked up into the heavens and saw a magnificent bird soaring with incredible skill.
“What a beautiful bird. What is it?” it asked.
“That’s an eagle,” replied one of the prairie chickens, “the chief of all the birds. But don’t give it a second thought, you could never be like him.”
Sadly the eagle eventually died thinking it was a prairie chicken.
Will You Soar Like an Eagle?
It’s the same with a lot of people today. The constant put downs, the underachievement mentality, the Tall Poppy Syndrome and the desire to not stand out, to keep ourselves at the same level as everybody else.
It affects us greatly unless we do something about it.
Let’s face it, standing up and standing out in many western countries is a sure way of being ridiculed and critisised. It’s a sure fire way of keeping us in our current situation, of leading a life of mediocrity, of never experiencing great success in our lives.
“Believe you are defeated, believe it long enough and it is likely to become a fact”
Norman Vincent Peale
If you’ve been going through a series of challenges it could be because there is little incentive in your world to rise above it.
People aren’t encouraging you to kick the dust off your feet and fly out of that dirty chicken coop up into the clear blue skies of opportunity.
Well, I am!
The Eagle Inside
To break through the monotonous scratching around of life we need to realise that there is an eagle inside all of us. Every person has the power to exceed their self-imposed or peer-imposed limitations.
A life of excellence is waiting for you.
What’s holding you back? The fear of failing. That is the most common reason. Perhaps you’ve tried to conquer your problems before and nothing happened, so you’re not confident of going through the struggles and hardship to try again.
But understand one thing: it’s okay to fail.
Failing shows that you had the guts to try. Sitting back and wishing for a solution will get you nowhere. As one tremendous entrepreneur recently stated, “We fail our way to success”.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
A Snake In The Grass (or in this case snow)
Whilst we are speaking about Brave Indian warriors there is another story that I often tell.
It is the story of the Indian Brave walking through the cold desert and finding a sick and injured rattlesnake lying on the snow.
The Indian Brave picks up the rattlesnake and takes him back to his village and takes him to his teepee. He tends to the snake’s wounds and keeps him warm and feeds him.
Every evening and every morning the Indian cleans the wounds and changes the dressings.
Day by day the snake gets stronger and stronger and his wounds heal. All of winter the Indian cares for the rattlesnake.
After the months of harsh winter subside and the warmth of spring arrives the snake has regained its health. One day the Indian walks into his teepee and the snake bites him.
The Indian is dazed and confused at the attack and falls to the ground dying. The snake slithers up to the Indian and the Indian near death asks,
“Why did you do this, I found you dying in the snow with terrible injuries, you would not have survived another day. I bought you back to my village and into my home, my teepee. I tended your wounds, dressed and changed them, I kept you warm and fed you for the whole of winter and now you repay my by biting me, knowing that it will cause my death”?
The snake looks at the dying Brave and says,
“You knew what I was when you found me, what did you expect.”
I know that I have had my fair share of rattlesnakes in my life both situational and of the human kind and I’m sure you have too.
Where Eagles Soar
Now, getting back to the story of the eagle who thought it was a prairie chicken.
It is easy when we face hurdles in life to revert back to victim mode. We blame our parents, our friends, our socioeconomic situation, our cultural or religious beliefs.
It’s also easy to say to ourselves that we won’t really be successful because of our situation, of the fact that we have tried things in the past that didn’t work.
Who am I to succeed in life?
Who am I to go onto university and achieve?
Who am I to start a business and achieve my magnificent life?
Who am I to raise wonderful children?
I believe we are all like the eagle living with the prairie chickens to some extent.
We have all had our experiences with rattlesnakes in our lives and only afterwards do we really realise the extent that these rattlesnakes had over us. The good news is that you can address the prairie chickens and rattlesnakes in you life and soar like and eagle.
The principles for developing a successful life are quite simple.
Many of those I have taken hold of are easy enough to be taught to children, yet adults struggle to interpret them.
Look at these 8 steps for example, and think about how they would change your current way of thinking.
- “Gather” new and correct information to empower and inform you.
2. “Discard” incorrect or negative preconceptions and thought patterns.
3. “Tell” others the truth; don’t prejudge people or lie to them.
4. “Repeat” positive messages to yourself.
5. “Renew” your mind with good positive input.
6. “Associate” with people with a right mindset and attitudes.
7. “Admit” your past mistakes and wrong mindsets and move on from them.
8.“Accept” right mindsets.
Grab hold of these principles and you’ll be able to launch into the air and start soaring like an eagle.