Be eagle, not duck; soar, don’t quack

One of the quotations I often remember is that “worry doesn’t give you anything in return; it rather deprives you of other things.” So, if anyone has the right attitude to life, it would be realised that what makes others cry would make him smile. Life phenomena are as we perceive them, not absolutely how they are. When we change our perception, we change our world.

In this light, I am sharing the story of author Harvey Mackay. Mr. Mackay is also a resourceful speaker that hops from one airport and city to another. He had all the bad experience that one has from typical cab drivers. That was before he came across Mr Wally, a cab driver with a difference. The story has been told in different ways, including the Nigerian version shared recently by my teacher, Prof. Sola T. Babatunde, but I would adapt here Rhonda Hamilton’s version:

One day Harvey was waiting for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing he noticed was that the taxi was polished. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and freshly pressed slacks, the cab driver rounded the car to open the passenger door for Harvey. Hardly had he sat down than he was handed a laminated card and told, “I’m Wally, your driver. While I am loading your bags in the trunk, I’ll like you to read my mission statement.”

Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: “Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.” This blew Harvey away especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside in terms of its spotless cleanness.

As he sat behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.”

Harvey said half-jokingly, “No thanks. I prefer soft drinks.”

Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.”

Almost stuttering in disbelief, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”

Handling Harvey his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today”. And as they were pulling away, Wally handed his passenger another laminated card, saying, “These are the stations I get and the kind of music they play. If you’d like to listen to radio, just let me know which station you prefer.”

He then advised Harvey on the best route to his destination for that time of the day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat with him and tell him some of the sights of the city or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

Harvey was absolutely amazed and asked the driver, “Tell me, Wally, have you always served customers like this?”

Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then, I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called “You’ll See It When You Believe It”. Mr Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, “Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competitors. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.”

“That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “Mr Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”

Asked if it had paid off, Wally replied, “It sure has. My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year, I’ll probably quadruple it.”

Honestly, when I see people lament and complain bitterly, I intuitively doubt the quality and authenticity of their education. As Maya Angelou (1928-2014) once counseled, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Therefore, don’t quack like a duck, just soar like an eagle. There is no problem if you don’t consider it a problem. If you FAIL, it is your “First Attempt In Learning”. What you consider END actually means “Effort Never Ends” and the NO you receive is not a rejection, it is just “Next Opportunity”, as Dr APJ Abdul Kalam noted.