Above is a video of the talk I gave at VanTalks. Below is the transcription:
The Chicken Eagle (AKA Cheagle)
One summer, when I was 12 years old, I was exploring the woods nearby my father’s farm when I stumbled across a nest on the ground with a spotted egg in it almost the size of a tennis ball.
Being the curious kid I was, I picked it up, cradled it in my t-shirt and walked it back to the farm. Where it made perfect sense to me to put it in the chicken coup with the other eggs. To my surprise, one of the hens sat on it just like it was her own egg.
A couple weeks later the egg hatched. Turns out it was an eagle egg. All of the other chickens gathered around to stare at this awkward Chicken. After a few weeks he started trying to spread his large wings and every time he did the chickens would point and laugh, because he was different. It didn’t take long for the eagle to learn not to spread his wings.
By the following summer, the eagle was walking like a chicken, bocking like a chicken and pecking at feed on the ground like a chicken. He had learned how to be a chicken. We ended up nicknaming him Cheagle, short for Chicken Eagle.
The story I’m sharing with you is clearly part fable, but it is all based on a true story. So, pay close attention.
One day Cheagle saw a shadow fly across the ground and he looked up and saw an Eagle soaring above. Something inside him changed that day. He saw this majestic bird in the sky and he felt deep inside that it was his purpose, his dream to soar through the sky just like her.
Cheagle started spreading his wings again, flapping them, pretending to fly. The other chickens would laugh at him and tell him, “Chickens can’t fly”.
The Mother Hen said, “Cheagle, don’t listen to them, you can do anything you want if you put your mind and heart into it”.
The next day Cheagle got on top of the chicken coup. He ran as fast as he could spread his wings… jumped off the side, started flapping his wings and… landed face first in the dust. The other chickens were laughing so hard, they were rolling on their backs with their little feet in the air.
Every day from then on out Cheagle got on top of that chicken coup and tried to fly, and every day he bit it, and every day the chickens would make fun of him. This went on for months and months.
Until one day another Eagle soared above…. And Cheagle somehow got up the courage to get on top of the roof of the farmhouse. All of the chickens gathered around genuinely concerned for him and told him, “Cheagle it’s too risky, you’re going to get hurt… just give up”, but he wasn’t about to give up. Cheagle ran as fast as he could, spread his wings and jumped off the side of the house and started to flap his wings. He started plummeting towards the ground… he flapped his wings harder and harder and just before he was about to hit the ground he closed his eyes and flapped his wings one last time. Realizing he hadn’t hit the ground he opened his eyes to see that he was gliding over the chicken coupe. He flapped his wings harder and harder and rose into the sky to join the other eagle.
I always enjoyed telling this story to my kids, but one thing I’ve never told them is… I AM CHEAGLE,
When I was younger, I felt awkward at times. I was overweight, and other kids made fun of me. And like many kids do, I started trying to fit in, to be cool, to conform. I started to build the wall we all build.
You see, our natural human instinct is to avoid pain. It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical or emotional pain our brain treats it the same. If you’ve ever touched a hot stove, you learn quickly you never want that to happen again.
Have you ever been in love? Had your heart broken? If you have, you know it’s a pain much worse than touching a hot stove. We tell ourselves, I’m never going to let that happen again and we build this wall around ourselves.
This wall helps shield us, hide our emotions, our shame. It helps us fit in, protects our vulnerable spots. Some of us spend our entire lives behind this wall never exposing our true selves.
If you remember just one thing from my talk today I want you to remember this.
Everything you desire
and everything you fear
Is on the other side of this wall
That you’ve been building for years
~ Me (I think)
You see, the problem is the same thing that are instincts are telling us to do to protect ourselves is preventing us from getting what we desire most in life. And the more we build this wall to avoid what we fear the farther we push away what we desire most.
My mother was a truly amazing woman! She really did tell me, you can do anything you want if you put all of your heart and mind into it.
You see, my mother helped instill in me the core belief that if I work hard enough and put my mind and heart behind something, no matter what it was I could make it happen. And I chose to believe it.
Beliefs Control our path in life
That’s when I realized that our beliefs control our path in life. I started working on changing my beliefs, beliefs I carried about myself, about others and about the world. I realized that anyone who gets good at anything has to be bad at it long enough. I changed how I viewed failure, fear and pain. They were no longer these horrible things, but they’re a part of the process that we all need to go through.
And boy have I experienced pain. I mean, I’ve fallen on my face more times than I care to remember. If there’s anything I learned after two failed business start-ups, almost losing my home after falling on financially hard times, having my heart broken, after I embarrassed myself on stage in front of 500 people and I lost my mother to cancer a month before my 31st birthday… if there’s any secret in life, it is to just get up and keep moving forward.
When I had my heart broken, it was really painful. I wanted to close up and not let anyone in. But instead, I made the decision that I was going to lean into the pain, the fear, because I wanted to find this amazing, beautiful, independent woman that loved me, for me, and all my imperfections.
Chickens CAN fly
When I met Jennifer (my wife), it was one of the most exhilarating and scary moments of my life. and I’ve jumped out of an airplane at 15K feet, but when I jumped out of that plane and was plummeting through the air I didn’t feel anywhere near as vulnerable as when I was falling, in love with her. But that’s what you have to do, even though you’re scared, even though the “chicken” voices inside your head are saying don’t do it, you’re going to get hurt… YOU JUMP… and you hope with all of your heart that you can fly.
Now, after two failed business attempts you’d think I would have learned my lesson… and well actually I did. You see those failures taught me important lessons that prepared me to start our current company, Webfor, and because of the beliefs I had developed and all the failures and pain I had endured I was able to put together one of the best teams in the world of web design and digital marketing and together we’ve been able to build a successful company that has helped 100’s of businesses and 1,000’s of employees.
I mentioned before that our beliefs control our path in life.
You see our everyday thoughts, actions, and emotions are like the water of a river. The bed of the river is made up of our base survival instincts and core beliefs. Just like water is directed by the channel of the riverbed… your thoughts, emotions, and actions are guided by your survival instincts and core beliefs.
There are layers upon layers of core beliefs stacked with supporting beliefs that have formed over years and years. Many of these beliefs are so far under the surface you don’t even know you have them or why you even have them and most you didn’t consciously choose, but nevertheless, they are guiding your path in life.
The good news is beliefs are just mental constructs, that with work, can be reinforced or deconstructed. Or you can choose new beliefs, beliefs that actually benefit you. Beliefs that help guide you to the BEST you and to living a fulfilled life.
Belief is one of the most powerful forces on our planet and when we become conscious and start to control our beliefs rather than letting them control us, we awaken a part of ourselves… a part of ourselves that this world desperately needs!
Part of the Moral of the Story
Part of the moral of the story a lot of people miss is how others helped inspire Cheagle to chase his dreams… to dare to fly… to fail… to push through pain, embarrassment… and to get up and try again…
I’ve had so many people inspire me throughout my life… my wife, my children, co-workers, clients… but one of the people who had the biggest impact on my life was my mother.
She used to tell me…. “The smallest of actions can have a ripple effect, like how dropping a pebble in a pond can create thousands and thousands of ripples that spread across the entire pond.”
Each one of us is impacting the world every day… whether we like it or not. The question isn’t can you change the world, but are you making it better?
We are all Cheagle
I said this story was about me, but The Truth is… We are all cheagle.
At one time or another we are all chickens in life, we conform, afraid to be different… afraid to stand out, worried about what others might think of us… but, you should never shrink to fit others views based off their own fears or perceived limitations. Each one of you is special…. And to (live a fulfilled life) you must let down your wall, expose yourself to the pain, failure, embarrassment… you must believe in yourself and have the courage to act in the face of these fears and never give up!
Don’t ask yourself… who am I to dare to be great… to be special… Instead, ask yourself… who are you not to be? This WORLD needs you… WE need you… to be your BEST you!
I encourage all of you to “Expose Yourself”… in the right way… and let your own light shine so bright, that it lights the path for others and inspires them.