It’s been 4 years since my trip to India. Although my everyday life seems as distant as the geography is, my memories tend to keep this experience top of mind. You can image that the combination of being fully present to each moment I experienced and the sensory overload of an unfamiliar culture serve to preserve these memories like a travel journal of sorts.
HOT that might be the first word I would use when describing India. There we sat side by side forming a row across the stage glued to the plastic seating provided, we must have looked like a tribe of vagabond Westerners to the women we were facing. The mix of heat and immobility resulted in legs that were suctioned together, sweat dripping from everywhere, and I swore I could wring this amount of perspiration from my bra.
To me everything in India is riddled with irony, including the HOT chai tea we were served during the conference break that afternoon. I managed to get the recipe and have made it a few times over the years. Delish. Oddly enough we were there to teach, this notion was especially ironic.
Our “fearless” leader, who was really theirs, was speaking. Not knowing if the story she was telling was true or a magnificent oral tale of Eastern decent I found myself hanging on her every word.
This message was for me.
She told us a story of what eagles do to realize their full potential – the discomfort they endure to reach their maximum life span. She with great detail, and some hilarious facial expressions, illustrated the process they go through to live beyond the age of 40. Their life span could be 80+ years, the choice was theirs.
She narrated how they would find a place to hide, a cave of sorts, high up in the mountains, a place where they could be safe in their vulnerability. It would be in this place where they would painstakingly pluck out some of their heaviest feathers, in order to lighten their plumage.
They use their hard and mangled beaks to pull out their talons one by one, for newer sharper talons to grow in. And at the final stage would crack their beaks agains the hard stone until the old came away and a more youthful beak could grow back in its place. All the while they faced near starvation in the process. Discomfort would be a slight to depict the pain of this molting.
I was 39 at the time.
I struggled with feelings of unfulfillment. I just didn’t feel like I was living my full potential. I had allowed life to push me around to the point that I wasn’t really sure who I was, what I was made for, and where I was going.
I was aching for purpose.
She implored her audience. “Do the hard work, you’re meant to be eagles.”
I wasn’t the only Westerner who was opened mouthed at the way she was addressing her girls, excuse me, I mean female leaders. She caught all of us off guard.
“Why are you acting like chickens just pecking around in the garbage?”
All I could think was, try selling tickets to hear that at your next women’s conference or retreat. But she was right, if we’re not out there enduring the discomfort to reach our maximum potential – we’re chickens.
I don’t know about you but I would rather be an eagle than a chicken. And my biggest take away from her talk was understanding this principle.
The discomfort preceded the destiny. And it takes courage to believe in yourself. Believing you’re an eagle not a chicken is half the battle.
This is especially true when you’re an adult. There are not many people offering to tell you how awesome you are and how much untapped potential you have. You’ve got to push yourself outside of your own comfort zone…and keep on pushing.
Friends, that’s what this community is about…pushing one another along as we all go through the painful process of reaching our full potential.
Eagles or chickens? Cast your vote.
Who’s ready to do the hard work with me?