Life lessons from eagles : motivation – podcast 010
The American Bald and Golden Eagles have many fables attached to them. Maybe it’s because they’ve been saved from extinction?
What is a fable?
A fable is a short story used to teach a lesson usually involving animals or inanimate objects. The famous story of the hare and the tortoise is a fable.
Parables, on the other hand, involve people. Jesus is probably the most famous person cited as telling parables.
Both fables and parables make the abstract easier to understand and remember.
Here is the motivational and inspirational eagle fable regarding success, team work and making tough decisions.
Life is a series of choices – how you view them is what’s important
To live a long life, the eagle, at about mid-life, has to undergo three dramatic and painful metamorphoses if it wishes to survive.
The first change and transformation is to deal with its talons. Because the talons have continued to grow at the same curvature they’ve always grown at, they’re no longer fit-for-purpose.
The eagle cannot continue to catch its prey as easily as it used to. Something needs to change if it wishes to continue living.
The second transformation it needs to make is to its beak.
Like its talons, the eagle’s beak has continued to grow in the same manner and also becomes unfit-for-purpose.
The eagle, even if its talons were capable of catching its prey, would be unable to continue eating because of the shape of its beak.
The third transformation is to get get rid of its protective coat: its feathers.
Over the years the eagle’s feathers have grown heavy and start to weigh the great bird down. Reaching the massive heights necessary for survival are no longer possible.
The eagle makes all three metamorphoses at the same time.
In one fell swoop.
Decision Making Time
When he knows he can no longer continue the way he is, the eagle builds his nest on a high rocky outcrop.
In a place he’ll be safe while he’s going through the painful transformation that lies ahead.
Eagles have huge nests and hundreds of exhausting trips are required collecting everything necessary to build his home for the next few months.
A case of survival
For an eagle to be able to continue to catch his prey he needs to completely grow new talons. This cannot happen until the old ones have been totally removed. Eagles need to destroy and kill their old talons by ruining them on the rocks around their nest.
Scraping until they bleed and die.
While he’s ruining his talons, he’s doing the same thing with his beak. Clawing at his great beak, until that too, bleeds and dies.
And if all this pain isn’t enough, he still has to take care of his coat.
Because it no longer serves him.
It’s old and heavy.
His feathers have grown stale and thick.
And so the eagle plucks out all of his feathers so he can regrow a brand new coat.
He waits, naked, in his nest, high up in the mountains, hoping he’s safe from other eagles who might want to attack when he’s at his most vulnerable.
While he’s waiting he wonders whether his talons will ever regrow.
Whether his beak will ever regrow.
And while he’s cold and hungry, whether his feathers will ever regrow.
But he knows he cannot rush the process. It takes as long as it takes.
While the great eagle lays in his nest, waiting for all of this to happen, he’s able to reflect on the first half of his life. To the time when he was learning to fly.
That, too, was a terrifying time.
He remembers his mother coming into the family nest and gently coaxing him and brothers and sisters to get closer to the nest’s edge. But he didn’t want to leave because it was safe, warm, comfortable and familiar there.
But then one day, she came back and pushed him out of the nest.
Just like that – push!
And he fell.
He was out of control, tumbling head over heels, not knowing whether he was going to survive. But when he thought he might crash and die – at the very last moment – his mother caught him.
He was safe.
She’d saved him: ensuring his first landing was a safe one – on her back.
The eagle remembers being relieved when his mother returned him safely back to the family nest. But then the next day she pushed him out. Again! And the next day and the day after that.
And when she thought all her chicks were ready to live their own lives she dismantled the family home.
His mother completely deconstructed the only nest he’d ever known. She made sure none of her chicks had an escape clause in their lives.
Being an eagle had prestige. And responsibility!
Being an eagle was an all or nothing thing.
And so, while the eagle lay in his nest waiting for his feathers, beak and talons to regrow, he remembered his life hadn’t always been easy.
Remember past successes
Some things were hard and scary but because he’d survived being pushed out of his nest as a chick he could live through the pain of this necessary metamorphosis for the next stage of his life.
He knew being uncomfortable, and even afraid, wouldn’t last forever. He knew it was a necessary part of his life’s journey. He knew he’d be able to fly and eat once again!
Choose your friends wisely
Being an eagle isn’t for the meek. You see, he knows that eagles only fly with other eagles. It’s encoded into his DNA. He knows he’s privileged and destined to fly to great heights!
He knows he has great vision. Also encoded into his DNA is his ability to focus on the hard things. A rodent 5km away stands no chance when an eagle sees something he wants.
Eagles can maintain focus over great distances for long times in order to achieve their goals.
Eagles don’t circle, hang out in crowds or eat dead stuff like vultures. Instead, they sight, focus and swoop in on prime, living targets.
He knows that dead, outdated and old stuff doesn’t serve his needs or his purpose.
The courage to surrender
He knows that when other birds fear the storm, as an eagle he’s in his element. Eagles use the energy of storms to rise and fly higher.
In storms, eagles use the power of the storm to surf on the wind currents instead of fighting and flapping against them.
Every time there’s a storm the eagle will relish the opportunity to fly higher than ever.
Create opportunities for others to shine bright
Eagles choose their partners wisely. Actions speak louder than words.
When a female eagle sees a male with whom she wishes to mate she wants to know he’s got what it takes to support, protect and go the distance with her.
She gives him opportunities to prove his worth by dropping a stick from the sky for him to catch before it reaches the ground.
She’ll test and encourage him to work harder by dropping twigs repeatedly from greater heights.
Once she’s satisfied he’s mastered the art of picking up twigs she’ll mate with him.
His persistence is paid off because her loyalty is forever.
Eagles mate for life.
Persistence produces mastery
He also knows he’s got stamina. He remembers what it took to build his first nest. A task that was once daunting, which he can now do, almost, in his sleep.
Eagles choose the highest places possible to build their nests. They want the best views and away from other predators. The first step in nest building is to fly back down to the ground to find the prickliest of thorns.
Many trips were necessary to find enough thorns.
Then were the twigs. Lots of twigs!
And then the grass. So much grass!
He remembers making his nest in layers: thorns on the outside, twigs on the inside and soft grass covering the twigs.
The thorns were for protection from external predators while the grass was like a soft carpet.
He remembers the team work he and his mate enjoyed together. She laid and protected their chicks while he hunted and fed their family.
Focus and hope
As the eagle lays in his nest waiting for his beak, talons and feathers to rejuvenate, he knows the pain will be worth it to soar once again, with other eagles.
Interesting Eagle Facts
Haast Eagle – the world’s largest eagle
New Zealand was once home to the giant eagle – the world’s largest-ever eagle.
Known as the Haast Eagle (Harpogornis moorei) the females weighed as much as 13-15 kg and are reputed to have preyed on moas.
The Haast Eagle’s wing span was almost 3 metres with talons measuring about 7.5 cm in length.
There are images of the Haast eagle in rock paintings drawn in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Haast’s eagle has been known to science since 1871, but until recently virtually nothing was known of how it may have lived, or how it was related to other kinds of eagles.
There are stories of a legendary bird carrying off men, women and children.
The Haast eagle is thought to have become extinct by 1400 AD, although there are a few 19th century accounts of sightings of very large birds of prey in mountainous areas.
It’s believed the Haast eagle succumbed to environmental damage resulting from Polynesian colonisation, together with the extinction of its main source of food, the moa.
- Bald eagle scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
- Average weight: males = 2.7 – 4.0 kg, females = 4.5 – 6.8 kg
- Average wingspan: >2.0 m
- Lifespan: 25 – 40 years
- Young eagles are called eaglets
- The bald eagle is the only eagle exclusive to North America. It is at the top of the food chain and has no natural enemies.
- The bald eagle is Canada’s largest bird of prey.
- Eagles generally only fly with other eagles
- Mate for life
- Have very large nests (about 2 m wide)
- Are powerful birds of prey: they prey on deer, mountain cats, wolves, snakes
- Have been known to attack humans
- Make their nests in very high places
- The largest bald eagle nest on record was 9.5 feet (3 m) wide and 20 feet (6 m) high. It weighed more than 2 tons!
- Bald eagles’ wings need to maintain balance and symmetry. When it loses a feather on one wing it will also lose a feather on the other.
- Bald eagles mate mid-air – at many thousands of feet above the earth.
Get a copy of the Eagle Motivational Story & slides
If you’d like a printed copy of this story and the slides, please email me and I’ll send them to you 🙂