Learning To Fly - Proteus Leadership | Leadership Article
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Learning To Fly

Can you imagine how a mother bird must feel when it is time to literally push her chick out of the nest and teach it to fly?

I am taking liberties here assuming that birds have feelings and actually know what they are doing, but the animal and bird world have a lot they can teach us about rearing our young and then setting them free.

Every mother bird takes a risk that her chick is not going to tumble from her nest to the ground and die.

I am sure that it happens, but she is prepared to take that risk and in taking that risk set free the very thing that she has spent a concentrated time caring for.

I was sitting in my office one day looking out of the window at the roses that were blooming in my front garden. Suddenly I saw one of the bushes move quite dramatically.

Wondering what might be causing this movement, I walked outside to take a look.

To my amazement, at the top of the rose bush, which was only about five feet from the ground, was a perfectly formed birds nest housing mother bird and her three small chicks; I was mesmerized by this!

Why in the world, when my house was surrounded by trees would this mother make her home in such a low and somewhat flimsy dwelling? Then it hit me; what a smart mother she was.

You see, every night on my roof a thunderous event would take place. Possums would move from tree to tree and house to house in search of food, and my roof was a part of their track.

Mother bird knew this and so her way of protecting her young was to build a home covered in thorns that was not accessible to these potential killers of the night.

As the weeks went by I witnessed the growth of the three young chicks. They were growing at a rapid rate and it was evident that unless they soon learned to fly, they would certainly grow too big for the home their mother had so lovingly built.

And sure enough, my prediction came true!

One morning I walked out to look at the family and on the ground below lay one of the chicks. Pushed out of the nest to make room for the stronger chicks.

All of that work and energy the mother had put in to see one of her young not make it through. Within days the other two chicks flew away, followed by the mother bird. She had done her job and now must start the whole process again.

This whole event really disturbed me; but in a good way!

How similar this whole episode was to our lives, both personally and in business. You try so hard to build a safe environment, you nurture your people right up until the time that they need to fly for themselves; and yet it doesn’t matter how much you do, some just don’t make it and some learn to fly.

You see, even though I have focused on the chick on the ground, there are two beautiful birds out there flying around and creating a life for themselves, all because of the work and care that a mother demonstrated.

Some of the people you coach and mentor won’t make it, but others will learn to fly and create a better world because of you.

There comes a time when all of us have to jump and trust in our ability to fly.

By Des Penny
CEO and Founder of Proteus Enterprises Pty Ltd


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”

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