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Peck your way to the top

August 28, 2016

The other day a friend and brother in Christ went to Facebook to show off his latest business venture; chicken farming, specifically broilers. He has quite a number of broilers and as I watched them, my mind went back to basics. Suddenly I had this crazy question nagging me at the back of my mind wanting to be desperately answered. Question was, how do those tiny chicks manage to break out of an egg? How do they know it’s time? As always, I decided to visit my friend Google to find out whatever information I could and I have to admit I was amazed at what I found out.

I know many people, probably even some who engage in poultry farming, might not be privy to this information.  I found out that before a chick breaks out of an egg, it is necessity that causes it to do so. It takes 21 days for a chick to develop from an embryo into a full-grown chick ready to hatch out of its egg. During those 21 days, as the chick grows, oxygen in the egg starts diminishing and eventually, the chick has to find an alternative source of oxygen. It is at this point of looking for oxygen that the chick breaks through the eggshell and finally manages to get out of the egg.

What I also found out is that the chick has a small tooth called an “egg tooth”. It is with this tooth that the chick pecks the inside of the egg until it breaks free, then eventually it breaks the eggshell and steps into the world for the first time. During this whole process, you cannot help the chick break the egg shell because in doing so you deprive it of the opportunity to strengthen the beak and its bones in general. The struggle it goes through during this whole process strengthens the vitals of the chick. Any assistance given at this time means the chick will be lame and might not survive the harsh world. So the chick has to peck, peck, peck and peck some more until it breaks the shell.

As I was thinking of this whole process I couldn’t help but see the similarities between the process this chick goes through for it to get out of the egg, and the processes we all have to go through in order for us to strengthen our gifts and use them to bring our dreams to life. We have to keep pecking, pecking, pecking and pecking some more until we get out of our eggshell. You have to be persistent; you cannot afford to stop pecking until you break through the barrier of the eggshell. If the chick doesn’t keep pecking, then it risks the possibility of suffocating and dying in the egg because of lack of air. Similarly, if you do not keep pecking (working your gifts), then chances are very high that you will suffocate and kill your dream in the process.

This chick story is also similar to our lives in the sense that in life, we will face many obstacles and challenges as we try to apply our gifts.  However we cannot and should not let those challenges and obstacles stop us from going for our dreams. We have to keep pushing (pecking) until we breakthrough, otherwise none of us will ever realize our dreams. When we focus on our dreams, then the obstacles seem less daunting than when we shift our focus to the obstacles. I agree with Henry Ford who said, “Obstacles are the things you see when you shift your eyes from your goals”. Does this mean there are no obstacles? No, it means that your goals are bigger and more important to you than the obstacles at hand. Those who stop focusing on their goals never achieve anything.

Throughout history we have heard of stories of people giving up because a task appears too hard or too complicated. Many of us quit oftentimes, right before success shows up at our doorstep. It is human nature for most people to quit or "take a break" right at the moment when we are about to achieve the biggest breakthroughs of our lives.

In relation to this, one story stands out in my mind. There is a great story in one of the best books of success ever written. If you are familiar with the iconic success book "Think And Grow Rich", you might remember the story in that book about a man who gave up his quest for gold too soon.

For months upon months this man went about prospecting for gold in the hills. Somehow he just knew that he would strike gold. Everyday he got up early in the morning and walked to the hills in search of his "fortune". He dug and dug with his simple tools. He found some gold here and there, but never anything to change his life. Finally, he gave up digging because he was convinced that he was never going to get anything.

Hearing this, another prospector came to him and offered to buy all his tools. The man agreed and sold all his tools for whatever money he could get for them. This prospector then went on to hire a land surveyor, an engineer and geologist, all whom combined their knowledge and went to work on the mine where the first man had been digging without results.

It is told that upon studying the area and the mine, the men discovered that the first man had been literally three feet from where the real gold deposit was. THREE (3) FEET! Can you imagine that? The poor prospector who had given up was so close to the gold, he could reach out and touch it. But there was no way he could know this for two major reasons; he gave up too soon, and he did not have the proper tools for the job.

Of course the news got to him that a huge deposit of gold had been found there but what could he do about it except regret his decision to give up?

What dream have you given up on because it is proving to be too difficult for you to realize? Could it be that you are using the wrong tools for the job? Could it be that you need to go back and re-strategize instead of giving up? Imagine how much this man’s life would have changed if he had continued pecking, pecking and pecking some more? Pecking in this case could be anything from changing strategies, sharpening or changing your tools, using a different approach to tackle whatever challenge comes your way, etc. Just keep doing whatever you have to do to make sure you come out on the other end victorious.

As I come to the end of this article today, and as I end this month’s theme, I’d like to share a story that clearly shows you what it means to keep pecking until you breakthrough.

J.K. Rowling had just gotten a divorce, was on government aid and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994. This seemingly hopeless situation was the same source of inspiration that propelled Rowling into becoming a huge success.

She wrote her work in different cafes, but only when her daughter Jessica fell asleep could Rowling begin writing. She had to tire Jessica by walking to different cafes until she slept. It proved to be very tough for her being a single mother.

The first book was originally a manuscript written on an old manual typewriter brought to completion in 1995. She was so poor she could not afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. As fate would have it, twelve publishing houses initially rejected the manuscript, until finally, Bloomsbury, a small London publisher gave it a second chance after the C.E.O.’s 8-year-old daughter fell in love with it.

And that is how the books and the movies Harry Porter were born.

J. K. Rowling had to fight a lot of obstacles in order to bring out her gift for the world to see it, but eventually she did and today even you know some of the brands she has created even though you don’t know her personally. The Harry Porter brand alone is worth about $15 Billion!  Dollars not Tshs!

So what gift are you still sitting on and why are you sitting on it instead of letting it take you to places you’ve never been before? If J. K. Rownling’s story can’t inspire you, then you need a lot more help than you think.

Like Napoleon Hill said, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success”.

Finally remember, whatever you do, never stop pecking.  

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 28th August, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

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