When I first moved to the US, one of the first phrases I heard that stuck with me was every eagle needs a push. Something about this phrase spoke to me, and it was later that I discovered the story behind it.
In the world of eagles, mama eagles build their nests at the tops of mountains to hatch and grow their eaglets. These young eagles grow in treacherous conditions, shrouded in mountain mist, foliage, and other wildlife while their mama stays nearby to protect them.
However, when it is finally time for them to learn how to spread their wings and learn how to fly, the mama eagle gathers her squawking eaglets, and one by one, with no warning, she pushes them off the mountain!
Now, you may be thinking, how cruel of the mother! But in reality, the initial push – as challenging, terrifying, and risky as it may be – is exactly what these eaglets need to develop sinewy, strong wing muscles and take flight.
In my coaching work, I meet people everyday that have been metaphorically trapped on their own mountaintops for many, many, many years, and they have not yet mustered the courage needed to build their wings and fly. They are haunted by fear, which results in them losing themselves and missing out on opportunities. Whether it’s through our own will or with the help of a coach, we need to push ourselves into the unknown.
For those of us in leadership roles, this lesson applies toward the teams we lead as well. Our team will thrive as long as we continue to push and challenge them into uncharted territory. As leaders, we need to be like the mama eagle. Imagine how scared she must feel when she pushes her babies off the mountain. She has to put immense trust in their capability to soar because it is the only way to empower them to discover their potential.
It may be frightening, but in the end, there is no greater feeling than the unbridled sensation of growth, so why not take the leap?