It’s crazy the way the brain makes associations. My afternoon run was along the South San Ramon Creek. There were lots of ducks in the water doing their ducky things. This got me thinking about a child I know who told his kindergarten teacher that he wanted to be a duck when he grew up.
The teacher had set the task for the morning. Each child needed to tell everyone what they wanted to be when they were adults. Then they had to act out this job/career. All the kids chose the usual jobs – fireman, policeman, rugby player, cricket player, ballerina, doctor, scientist, etc. Keegan decided that he wanted to be a duck. Cue laughter and eye-rolling from his classmates.
On the surface, this choice seemed to be not only strange and amusing but also lacking in ambition. But I put it to you that Keegan showed a character well beyond his three years. He was unafraid to make the choice which was right for him. He was bold enough to blaze a trail to the water’s edge and find a tribe of ducklings who would follow him downriver. He didn’t care that this was not ‘what people do’ or that he was severely constrained by biology. He assessed the tasks on its merits. There were no constraints which made a duck wrong. He thought about the acting out part as well – it’s pretty easy to do the duck walk and quack while flapping your arms. Not so easy to show what a scientist does in a way that unequivocally demonstrates your career of choice. Little chance of having to make a last minute change because another child chose the same thing.
We have much we can learn from Keegan’s choice that morning. He shipped. He shipped in a way that was unique. At three years old he was already showing signs of an entrepreneurial spirit. Next time you’re faced with a tough decision, think like Keegan. Blaze a trail. Take the path less chosen. Start a tribe of your own. Be weird. Be a duck.