Achieve more by thinking like a mother duck

At what time does a duck wake up in the morning? Are you ready for this, brace yourself, here goes… at the quack of dawn – BOOM BOOM! Sometimes I just quack myself up, I really do… NOT!!!

I was speaking at a conference in London a few weeks ago and I decided to have a wander around Hyde Park and you’ll never guess what I saw? That’s right, ducks, how did you know?

We’ll discuss your psychic abilities later, but let me tell you about these ducks. I say ducks; it was a mother duck and her ducklings.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘to get your ducks in a row’, which means when achieving a goal or action plan you organise your tasks and schedule so that you are ready for the next step. I’ve tried to find out the origin of this saying and there seem to be several. One is that when ducks fly, they fly in a row. Actually, they don’t, they fly in a ‘v’ formation, so I suppose that’s two rows.

Anyhoooo, back to mamma duck and her baby ducks. Even though I won’t be taking up duck watching as a sport or pastime I’m delighted I spent a little time admiring them as I saw them do something that reminded me of something we all know and often don’t do.

Did you know that when mamma duck decides she’s going to make a move, such as going from the river bank into the water, she doesn’t get her ducklings in a row? Oh no!

She doesn’t say, “OK everyone listen up, especially you Donald, you’ve been getting on my nerves all morning. Everyone, it’s time for lunch so we’re going snail foraging (yup, they do forage and they do eat snails, I looked it up). I’m in front, Freda you’re behind me, Boris you swim behind Freda, Barry you’re behind Boris and everyone keep your eye on Siobhan; you know what she’s like when she spots a worm. Hang on a minute, where’s Sue? Has anyone seen Sue? Oh there you are Sue, come on now get in line love. Remember everyone, no swimming too close to Steve, he’s a bit of a quack head. And, Simon no annoying your sister Pam by pecking her, I’ve got my eye on you.

And I want a nice straight line too, please don’t show me up again like you did last week in front of all those tourists. You were all over the place guys. I was soooooo ashamed. And if there’s any misbehaving or you go the slightest fraction out of line I’ll dip you in orange sauce. If you don’t believe me just try it.

Everybody, ready? Good!

Here we go, one… two… wait for it, wait for it… THREE! And off we go!”

OK, there’s definitely no talking/quacking going on obviously, but there’s no organising going on either. Mater just makes her move and the ducklings follow… that’s it. If you don’t believe me look up some videos of ducks with their ducklings on YouTube. They’ll follow mum, but not in a row, not even something that resembles a row either.

Have you ever thought you’ll wait until everything is perfect before you make a move to achieve a goal or something you say you’ve always wanted to achieve? Have you ever said such things as, “I’ll lose weight, or stop smoking, or get healthy, or start a business or whatever, when I have the money, or the time, or the right people to help me or whatever?”

In other words you’ll start or take action, but only when something else is in place.

Ok, sometimes you need to do some preparation to achieve a goal but many of us don’t even make a start on the preparation; often the preparation is THE excuse NOT to take action.

So why are we waiting until ‘all our ducks are in a row’?

There’s another expression you may have heard, it goes like this, ‘When the pupil is ready the teacher will appear’. This is so true.

Once we make a move, usually what we need turns up, but we have to be committed to our goal. We also need to tell others of our goal/dream; that way we’re more likely to get the help we need.

There is a scientific explanation and it’s all to do with our reticular activating system and the willingness of others to help. I won’t explain it here; that’s your homework for the weekend.

There’s another advantage to making a start. If you get something wrong (which is also an excuse not to start, as we fear failure) you’ll be in the perfect position to correct what you need to do to achieve your objective.

Think of all the achievements in your life, no matter how small or insignificant you may think they are. If you didn’t make a start you would not have achieved them. I’ll also bet you got things wrong to begin with but you made corrections to get back on track. I’m also willing to bet that once you made a start you received help along the way.

So, what have you been putting off until the conditions are perfect, until you have the right support? Don’t use that as an excuse not to take action; do the preparation, make your goal known to family/friends/colleagues and do what mamma duck does… just make a move.

By the way, what do you call a cat that swallows a duck? Are ready for this, brace yourself, here goes… a duck-filled-fatty-puss – BOOM BOOM! Sometimes I just quack myself up, I really do… NOT!!