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The Eagle's Choice

As an endangered species, eagles are always vulnerable to those who would capture them, clip their wings, band their feet and still their flight.

photo of a Bald Eagle on a nestOn a particularly foggy evening, ruthless pillagers came upon a nest in the mountains. It was carefully constructed in a sheltered crevasse and its occupants were a mother bald eagle and her single egg, which she was lovingly tending. Because she was focusing on the fledgling, the eagle was easy prey for the human hunters. Before she knew it, she was clamped in a vice of greed and ignorance and swept away.

In the struggle, the nest was upset and the lone egg tumbled down the mountainside, miraculously landing intact in a meadow. The mother eagle's last sight before her head was covered with a black cloth was of her egg coming to rest beside a pine tree, and she marked the spot indelibly in her mind vowing to return.

photo of a ChickenIt was but a few hours later that a chicken came upon the egg. She lay her face gently against the shell. She could feel the precious life within it. Her maternal instincts led her to incubate the egg with her warmth until eventually it hatched. The chicken knew at once that her offspring was a very special bird and she fed and nurtured him along with her own seven chicks. As he grew, he was influenced, as all children are, by those around him. He assumed the posture and the habits of a chicken, but deep, deep within him was the soul of an eagle and it called to him - subtly but constantly - to be free. Generally he ignored his eagle heart because he had grown to love his fellow chickens.

photo of an eagle in a treeOne day, quite by accident, he discovered that he could fly. Not wanting to appear a show-off to the others, he suppressed his ability. One bright spring day, the kind that stirs the heart to optimism, a visitor joined the family of chickens. The mother eagle, after a daring nocturnal escape from her captors, had returned to the spot where she had last seen her egg. She saw the chickens, and among them she beheld her magnificent son. She was welcomed by the group, and told her story. At first, the mother chicken was hesitant to accept the fact that the eaglet was not her own, but then she acknowledged the obvious truth. Ironically, because he was approaching adulthood, neither the hen nor the eagle could claim control over him much longer.

The mother eagle noted that her son's behaviors were those of a chicken and she spoke to him of eagle life - of soaring and swooping and pensive moments for reflection in the aeries.

"Ultimately," she said, "the choice is yours Son.'

photo of an eagle flyingAt first, he was reluctant to change. "But mother," he said, "won't the chickens think me arrogant and a show-off if I fly above them? I love the chickens. Who am I to assume a higher plane?"

His mother counseled him with the wisdom of her years and experience. "My son, you must always remember that you are not better than chickens, just different from them. Your destiny lies in the air while theirs is upon the earth, but both are noble. You can serve them by virtue of your vision of the entire valley. You can lead them when they are in jeopardy, guide them past obstacles, and support their dreams with your friendship."

With that, the eagle soared, the chickens cheered and there began a unique and wonderful relationship in which all were fulfilled.

It Follows:
It is no more arrogant to lead than it is degrading to follow. Inner peace comes from knowing when to do which in the service of others.

The Eagle's Choice was written and narrated by Julie Reder Fairley. The lullaby was sung by Evelyn O'Dwyer. Character voices were provided by Evelyn O'Dwyer, Anthony Reece and Matthew Linden. This parable is dedicated to Cile Chavez.


Guiding Questions for "The Eagle's Choice"


As leaders, we have goals on which we focus. How can we protect ourselves from the demands of life and work which may distract us, causing us to lose sight of our mission?

2. What skills come into play when we, as leaders are thrown into a totally new situation? Are we inclined to "adopt the habits" of those in our new environment? How can we maintain personal integrity in times of change?
3. As leaders, we often struggle with our desire to advance our vision and the knowledge that we must bring others along with us to be successful as a collaborative system. Where is the balance between passion and patience? How can we bring our unique abilities to fruition and still remain part of an effective team?
4. Every day is filled with choices. Yet, often we fail to see the alternatives before us because we are: in a hurry, locked on one path, afraid to risk, etc. How can we train ourselves to consider options so that we really are making conscious choices in the best interests of those we lead?
5. Though strength and confidence are important qualities in leaders, the motivation which underlies those actions is also very important and becomes transparent to others. How can we be certain that we are acting in the interests of those we serve and not just for our own reputation and advancement?

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