Are you an eagle or a chicken?

| 11 Jun 2018

Be careful of the company you keep. Because even an eagle can become a chicken.

Some time back, an adviser reached out to me and asked me out for coffee. He shared with me his frustrations at not achieving the success he had craved when he first joined the industry a few years back.

He was thinking of quitting.

Look, I think a career change in itself is not a bad thing. If you have other interests that you wish to pursue, an opportunity that is too good to miss presents itself or if you are leaving for something “better” (however you define it), sure. There are many skills and lessons that a career in selling, especially in life insurance, equip you with that will come in handy in your career and life.

But if one is leaving “defeated” because he did not live up to his potential and did not even try, then I think it is regrettable.

I shared with him this well-known parable:

"Once upon a time, a chicken farmer found an eagle’s egg. He put it among his chicken eggs.

Soon enough, the egg hatched.

It was an eaglet but chickens in the farm were his only company. Whatever the other chicks did, he did too.

As the eaglet got bigger, he felt different and wanted to be different. As chickens do not fly, the eagle never did learn to fly. But he often looked up into the sky and admired the eagles that soared in the clouds.

He shared with his closest friends and family in the farm, “I want to soar.” But they’d reply “Don’t be silly, we are chickens. Chickens do not fly.”

So the eagle lived and died as a chicken, because that was what he thought he was."

It was a long-winded way of saying the clich├ęd “Birds of the same feather flock together” or the famous saying “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

But it worked as it struck a chord with him.

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He decided to prove his doubters wrong and (re)commit to his career. I advised him to reflect on the company he kept.

Recently, he shared with me his progress and thanked me.

One thing that he said stood out for me. “I was always shy to mix with the top producers because I wasn’t at their level. But when I wanted to change and asked for help, surprised that they were happy to share and coach me.”

Sometimes the first step to being an eagle, is not to be a chicken in asking for help.  

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Some journeys just take a little longer, whether its your career or life. 

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