Teaching penguins to fly

You possess strengths you might not realize you have. Find the right one. Use it.
Epictetus
55 – 135 A.D.

There’s an interesting story about penguins that illustrates a profound lesson. As the story goes, a group of penguins got wind of the fact that inspirational and motivational speakers were achieving amazing results with their followers. And the penguins wondered if a motivational speaker could help them learn to fly. After all, the penguins reasoned, they were birds, and birds fly. What was stopping them from achieving their potential?

So the penguins formed a committee to find a motivational speaker who would help them. The committee chairman called up a very famous speaker and explained their problem. “Can you teach us to fly?” he concluded.

“Certainly,” the speaker replied. “All you need is the belief that you can fly and the determination to make it happen. But it would cost a lot for me to come to the South Pole to teach you.”

Well, financial arrangements were made and the speaker made his way to the South Pole. There, all the penguins gathered in a large conference room at a first class hotel and listened to a rousing address by the speaker.

First, he told them they had to believe they could actually fly.

Then he got them flapping their wings.

Finally, he put one penguin on a stepladder and told him to fly. (He fell flat on the floor.)

Three or four others tried, and then the speaker placed Charlie on the fourth step. Charlie sort of glided to the ground. But he got right back up and tried again. Eventually, Charlie flapped his wings fast enough to fly around the conference room.

As soon as the other penguins saw Charlie fly, they all tried harder. Soon there were penguins flying all over the room. At the end of the training, they were so grateful, they gave the speaker a standing ovation.

And then the penguins all walked home.

Unfortunately, that’s the way most of us act. We get inspired when someone shows us new possibilities: what we can do or what we can become. But as soon as the inspiration fades, we fall back into our old habits. We fail to put our new skills to use.

Don’t be like the penguins. When you discover a new lesson, act on it. When you learn a new skill, follow through and use it. Only through action can we change our lives.

It is no profit to have learned well, if you fail to do well.
Publilius Syrus
1st Century B.C.

Copyright © 2019 John Chancellor


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