Feeling Trapped By Your Own Business?Oct 20, 2020
By Dino Tartaglia
There’s an old fable about an eagle that thought he was a chicken.
When the eagle was very small, he fell from the safety of his nest. A chicken farmer found the eagle, brought him to the farm and raised him in a chicken coop among his many chickens. Sure enough, the eagle grew up doing what chickens do, living like a chicken and believing he was a chicken. Inevitably, word got out and people would come and stare in disbelief at this ‘chicken-eagle’.
One day, an ornithologist came to the chicken farm to see if what she had heard about an eagle acting like a chicken was fact. She knew that eagles are ‘kings of the sky’, so, it beggared belief that such a thing could be true. As she raced towards the chicken coop, she caught sight of the eagle and stopped dead in her tracks. Incredibly, there, right in front of her eyes, was what should have been a majestic bird, however, its plumage was matted and weathered, and it strutted around the chicken coop pecking at the ground and acting almost exactly like a chicken. The farmer explained to the ornithologist that this bird could no longer be thought of as an eagle. He was now a chicken because he had been reared and conditioned by circumstance and his environment in order to behave like a chicken.
THE CONSTRAINTS OF THE FAMILIAR
It was all the eagle knew, and he clearly believed that he was a chicken. The ornithologist knew there was more to this great bird than she was seeing. This was no chicken. Born an eagle, he must have the heart of an eagle and nothing - not years of environment and conditioning, not programming, not a loss of belief - could change that.
The woman lifted the eagle onto the fence surrounding the chicken coop and said, in as loud a voice as she could muster, ‘You are an eagle. Stretch out your wings and fly!’ The eagle moved slightly, only to look at the woman briefly, then he glanced down at his home among the chickens in the chicken coop where he was comfortable and with what he knew. He jumped off the fence and continued doing what chickens do. The farmer was almost smugly satisfied. ‘I told you he was a chicken,’ he said, as the woman turned to leave.
FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS
Undaunted, the ornithologist returned the next day and tried again to convince the farmer (and the eagle) that the eagle was born for something greater. This time, she took the eagle to the top of the farmhouse and spoke to him softly: ‘You are an eagle. You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch out your wings and fly!’ The large bird looked at the woman, then down into the chicken coop. He jumped from the woman’s arm onto the roof of the farmhouse and waited to be carried back to the coop.
But the ornithologist just wouldn’t let this go. She had a powerful instinct - a faith, if you will - in the latent connection with his birthright in this marvellous creature and sadness in her heart for what he had become. So, she asked the farmer to let her try one more time. She would return the next day and prove that this bird was an eagle. The farmer, totally convinced otherwise, said, ‘Look, to all intents and purposes, the bird is now a chicken. But, hey, if you want to waste your time, knock yourself out.’
Bright & early the next morning, the ornithologist returned to the chicken farm, this time with a glint in her eye, a determined heart and a new plan. She took the eagle and the farmer some distance away to the foot of a high mountain, which they climbed to a height where the landscape spread out dramatically in front of them.
THE POWER OF CHANGING YOUR ENVIRONMENT
From here, no one could see the farm or the chicken coop. The woman stretched out her arm on which the eagle was perched and pointed high into the azure-blue sky where the bright sun was beckoning above. She spoke in a vibrant, uplifting voice: ‘Eagle, you were born to be free...to soar above the earth. You ARE an eagle! You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch out your wings and fly!’
This time, the eagle stared up into the deep blue of the sky and the haze of the bright sun and, suddenly, he felt something move inside him. He looked around and all he saw as far as his eyes could see was a powerful landscape dominated by magnificent mountains, a stirring sky and lustrous trees. Something - some echo of things long forgotten, always there but never recognised - stirred deep in his core.
Letting these new sensations flow through his body and his mind, he straightened his large body and stretched out his massive wings. Slowly, falteringly at first, his wings began to beat. Steadily, they gathered pace until they were moving surely and powerfully. Then he found his voice. And with a mighty screech that powerfully echoed across the land below him, the eagle flew!
DO YOU ‘OWN YOUR OWN JOB’?
Being stuck in a business that feels like it owns you is hellish, especially when the awareness dawns on you. After a while, you get conditioned to things as they are, the environment of drowning in client fulfilment, chasing feast and famine, sliding slowly into uncertainty, until uncertainty starts to affect who you are and you lose sight of what’s possible. That is what feeds those sleepless nights, lying awake, wondering how the hell you’re going to get free of this time/money trap you’ve unwittingly fallen into. And even if you love your clients and make a decent living, deep down inside of you, you know that you can do more, have more, BE more. But where do you find the time for all of that?
There’s little worse than ‘owning your own job’ in a business where you simply can’t scale past your own efforts and it’s forcing you to compromise, or even sacrifice, ‘What Matters Most’ to you. You may have even lost sight of your original vision and the dream that powered everything when you first got started.
SHIFT YOUR IDENTITY
But the simple truth is that once you accept that you are brilliant at what you do it’s entirely possible to build a joyful, successful business around your brilliance and your expertise.
Perhaps it’s time for you to listen to the external voices that see who you really are and can guide you to reclaim that birthright. That dream! Ultimately, I don’t give a flying one who you get that help from as long as they’re honest and competent (I’ll write about how to tell in another article). You were born to live a life of fulfilment - that is your birthright. But in order to realise this, you must shift your identity from ‘practitioner’ to ‘business owner’, so that you see the business, not you, as responsible for delivering your brilliance to your market (even if you are the person who provides the expertise).
GET CLOSER TO ‘WHAT MATTERS MOST’
It can’t be another poor imitation of a business, a different version of the time-for-money trap that simply creates a job for you. A ‘Plan B’ that’s really just another ‘Plan A’ wrapped up in a different overcoat. You really need a different approach.
It starts with asking better questions than you’ve been asking and it unlocks by thinking more accurately and more effectively, so that you begin to tackle the root problems that are keeping you locked down - the root causes that hide and constrain that magnificence inside of you. Because now is the time for you to build a business around how brilliant you truly are.
It’s time for you to get closer to ‘What Matters Most’. It’s time for YOU to fly!
Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do.
In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most.
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