You are who you hang around
The other day I was driving and saw some chicken walking around the backstreet I was driving on. I purposely increased my speed as I approached them to see what they would do. One that looked like the mother hen saw the car coming from her side eye and quickly quacked as though to warn off the smaller chicks, then she flapped her wings and attempted to fly but of course just ended up “flalking” away from the road. In case you are wondering, I just made the word up to mean a walk that looks like flying. Only birds that can’t fly like chicken, ducks, etc can Flalk.
I found myself laughing alone in the car as I imagined seeing a chicken flying. I am sure even the chicken itself would wonder what is happening to it and might die of shock. But do you know that the ancestors of the chicken we see today actually had the ability to fly and they actually used to fly? Well that’s a story for another day.
Back to my story, after the hen and her entourage safely moved away from the road, I passed them and continued with my journey. About 800m further, I found another set of birds, but this time these were not chicken but ravens, commonly known in Kiswahili as “Kunguru”. These birds are so annoying and noisy, I sometimes wish there was a way of getting rid of them. They are also equally swift. As soon as they saw my car coming, they easily lifted off from the middle of the road and landed on the same spot as soon as I passed.
Those two set of birds reminded me of a story I am sure you all know, about the chicken and the Eagle. I have shared the story with you a couple of times before but today I want to share the same story from a different perspective. Here goes….
There’s an old, well-known story of a chicken farmer who found an eagle’s egg. He put it with his chicken and soon the egg hatched. The young eagle grew up with all the other chicken and whatever they did, the eagle did too. He thought he was a chicken, just like them.
Since the chicken could only fly for a short distance, the eagle also learnt to fly a short distance. He thought that was what he was supposed to do. So that was all that he thought he could do. As a consequence, that was all he was able to do.
One day the eagle saw a bird flying high above him. He was very impressed. “Who is that?” he asked the hens around him.
“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” the hens told him. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth, we are just chicken.”
So the eagle lived and died as a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
What a waste of Eagle he was! What a boring life he led as a chicken, probably sneezing from all the dust on the ground when he could have been breathing fresh air while soaring high above the skies where only his kind are found! Sadly though, there are many people who are like this eagle, who have conformed to the lifestyle of chicken not knowing they are eagles.
In my last article, I did mention that today we would look at one of the ways to ensure you keep meeting your goals, or realizing your dreams. Of course there are many points to consider but today I want to focus on one: your associations i.e. who do you hang around with?
There are many reasons why, but one of the reasons why only 8% of people achieve their dreams is because most of those who don’t never really realize the full potential they have within themselves. And why don’t they realize their potential? The most logical answer would be because in most cases, they associate themselves with the wrong group of people.
Collin Powel said something very profound that I would like to quote verbatim. He said: “The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don't help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends (associations) will either stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you”.
My personal belief is that it was not the Eagle’s fault that he did not know who he was; I mean he grew up and found himself with the chicken, so how could he have known he was different? He probably didn’t have a mirror to look at himself to see that he looked different from the chicken, and the chicken too opted to not tell him either. However, the one person who knew the whole story was the farmer. He could have told him the truth, but he didn’t. As I re-read this story I can’t help but wonder why the farmer really chose to hide this truth from the Eagle. Is it because he wanted to keep him there and not give him a chance to explore his potential? Did he want to see whether he could cross breed a chicken and an Eagle to see the outcome? Or was he simply unconcerned?
The farmer is a classic example of people who choke your dream. They know your potential but instead of giving you room and the encouragement to spread your wings and fly, they try to clip them by discouraging you. These are not people to surround yourself with; these are not people to be in the company of. For you to realize your dreams, for you to be successful, you have to be in the company of people who better you, not bitter you; you have to be in the company of people who train you to be a better you, and not those who drain the better part of you; you have to be in the company of people who exalt you, and not those who exhaust you; you have to be in the company of those who increase you, and not those who decrease you. You have to have the right associations.
I like what my favorite motivational speaker Les Brown says. He says, “Align yourself with people that you can learn from, people who want more out of life, people who are stretching and searching and seeking some higher ground in life.” In other words, if you want to achieve your dreams, you have to align yourself with people who aspire to achieve their dreams just like you. You cannot hang around chicken when you are an eagle and expect to fly high. No! You have to hang around your fellow Eagles so that you can encourage each other to fly higher and higher.
My favorite book says in Amos 3: 3, “Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?” (The MSG Translation). The only way to keep yourself from missing your dream is by making sure the people you are walking with on your way to find your success also have a similar dream; a dream of being successful.
I have said this many times and I will repeat this again; the sperm that conceived you did not beat all those other millions of sperms so that you could be brought into this world to live as a chicken. No. You were born to be an eagle. You were born to do exploits. You were born to do things that no one else has done yet. Once again I would like to quote my favorite book which clearly confirms this theory in Jeremiah 1:5 which says, “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.” (The MSG Translation).
What this means is that each one of us has a specific assignment that is unique, one that can only come to this world through you. Now imagine how many people die without achieving their God ordained destinies! Imagine how many inventions have died because the carriers of those inventions died thinking they were chicken!
Les Brown captured this clearly in one of his most sobering quotes that says, “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”
Friends, I understand that it is possible that you may have been brought up in a situation that limited your understanding of your potential. I understand that your past may have scared you into not pursuing your dream. However, you will never be truly happy and fulfilled in this life if you do not pursue your dream. I believe today is the day for you to make that decision to shake yourself loose from your past and look forward to your destiny. Today is the day you should step up and acknowledge yourself for who you truly are; an Eagle.
My parting shot today is simple; do not die thinking you’re a chicken. Soar high, just as you were meant to. Be all that you are meant to be! Be an Eagle
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 24th July, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".