You’re listening to episode # 9 of the She Who Dares Podcast and guess what?? It’s Christmas Eve!! I CANNOT believe it’s finally here and tomorrow our girls will wake up so excited to see what Santa has left under the tree for them! I just love the anticipation and magic of this night!
I know you’re probably bustling around the kitchen making final meal preparations or through the stores grabbing one last gift so I planned a solo episode for today to keep it short and sweet! It’s perfect for the end of the year as you look at what 2020 will bring and how you will grow your business! Let’s dive in!
Have you ever heard the term “Kill the Duck”?? I didn’t think so! I hadn’t either until I was recently talking to a friend about his plans after graduating college. He is from Israel and in their country they must serve in the military after high school and before going to college. So he was an IDF officer for several years before coming to America to find the love of his life and settle into his studies.
He’s coming into a new season where he’s just recently graduated and expecting their first baby and he and his wife are praying about all of the possibilities for their next chapter. He said, “there are so many options but I just want to make sure I’m not a duck.” When he saw the confused look on my face he explained that a duck can do a lot of things. It can swim, it can fly, and it can walk. But it’s not actually great at any of them. It can do so many things mediocre but it isn’t excellent at any of them. In the military, they had the term “Kill the Duck” plastered on the walls for all to see to remind them that they should be excellent at a few things, not mediocre at a lot of them.
Goodness….this hit my gut so hard. And the crazy thing is, I already know this. I’ve always said, be incredibly amazing at 1 thing and let someone else be amazing at their thing. You don’t need to be everything to everybody. But this past year I’ve gotten away from that. We put our hands in a few too many buckets and I’m definitely feeling it! In hindsight, I can see that’s what we did but at the time it all made sense. Each of the things we jumped into this year seemed to go together. They all seemed to align. But in my gut, I knew a few of them didn’t. I just got overly excited and jumped in too fast.
As I pondered over this term “kill the duck” for the last few weeks I’ve started to realize a few other things about ducks. Have you ever seen a duck floating along the water looking like it has it all together just gliding along?? But what you can’t see is under the water they are paddling furiously to stay afloat and get where they’re going!
Also, who likes the sound of a quacking duck?? It’s one of the most annoying sounds right?? Like oh my word, please stop with the quacking already!
So at this point, you’re probably wondering….Brandee, why the heck are you talking so much about ducks?? I don’t hunt, I don’t eat duck and I really don’t care about how well they can swim!
But let me tell you, we can learn a LOT about what not to do in business by learning from the ducks! Let’s look at 3 ways we can avoid “duck-syndrome”.
1. Ducks are mediocre at a lot of things but not great at any of them.
Ok so this one seems self-explanatory to me but let me break it down a bit anyway. When we focus on all of the things we could do instead of the one-two things we’re incredibly passionate about, we lose focus. We get tired, stressed, overwhelmed by all of the things and eventually it will catch up with us. Our bodies are only designed to handle short bursts of stress and hustle. Then we need a break. Then we can go again full force. When we have too many plates spinning at once and an arm gets tired, the plates will start to fall. Let’s take an example:
a. You’re a DJ and you’re killing it as a DJ. You book your season full, your clients love you and you’re making a great living. But then you start to see that rental inventory is really hot and you think “hey, I could do that too to fill the lower DJ season”. So you start to build your rental company. Then a friend comes along and says “man, you are so great at designing! You should do design for events too” And you think….I am really great at it and I like it. And the DJ company is on auto-pilot and the rental company is awesome so I will have time for this too. So you dive in, take on a handful of clients and off you go! Everything seems great at first. You’re doing it all! You’re amazing and can handle way more than the average person! But then, you have a soundboard get fried the day of a wedding and you’re taking up time fixing that to get it working in time for the wedding and so you are behind on getting the proposal for the design client to them. So you stay up late working on that and then you oversleep the next day for a setup for a rental order! Whoa! That seriously just snowballed from great to terrible very quickly!
Obviously I know this sounds a little CRAZY but it is 100% actual stories! You need time to deal with curveballs that come your way. To have downtime and refresh between events, etc… To be excellent you need time to hone your craft and continue your education. If you’re so busy DOING all of the things, how will you have time to focus on the growth of your business?
2. Ducks look like they’re gliding along on the surface so serene but under the water, they’re furiously paddling to keep afloat.
Ok….this one is so funny to me because I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt exactly like this! Right?? You have to keep it together. You have employees, clients, friends, followers, etc… all looking at your and they see this perfectly floating duck just gliding along the water. Overworked?? No way! Too little sleep?? What would make you think that? Everything is perfect….everything is great! But really, behind the scenes, you are feverishly JUGGLING to keep all of the balls in the air. And what is this accomplishing?? It goes back again to being so involved in the business that you can’t work on the business. You’re running, swimming, paddling to make it all look like everything is perfect but you’re exhausted! An amazing business owner needs to allow themselves space and time to work on the vision, the goal setting, the overall health, and growth of their business and if you’re so busy paddling, you won’t get far very fast!
3. Ducks quack and complain and just make noise for the sake of making noise.
Oooo. Ok. This one I found intriguing. Ducks have no direction, no real purpose and run around all day making a crazy noise for no reason. In comparing this to how we act, do you ever find yourself in a season of complaining?? There aren’t enough sales coming in, there are too many overly needy clients, you don’t have the resources you need to do the job well, a vendor let you down, there are more clients than you can handle and the list goes on.
But have you ever stopped for a second to think….what if I shifted my mindset?? Instead of complaining about what I don’t have or how others have more than you (more followers, more employees, more contracts) so they have it easier. What if you shifted that to focus on the things that are working? What if I shifted my focus from what can this do for me TO how can what I do help someone else??
OR, when sales are down for instance instead of thinking “why don’t people book me.” to start thinking “how can I elevate my craft to stand out from my competition so clients will recognize that I am unique and engaging and fabulous at my craft.”
When I was doing some research on this “duck syndrome”, there was a story I kept coming across and I really had to share it. It’s just such an amazing illustration of how a simple mindset shift from duck to eagle can not only change the growth of our business but increase our happiness and mental health. I mean, did any of us quit our 9-5 to become depressed, overworked, mediocre workers??? I sure as heck did not!
Mr. Harvey Mackay was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said: “I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk, I’d like you to read my mission statement.”
Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.
This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean! As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.”
Harvey said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.” Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”
Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.”
As they were pulling away, Wally handed another laminated card. “These are the stations I get and the music they play if you’d like to listen to the radio.” And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.
“Tell me, Wally,” an amazed Harvey asked the driver, “have you always served customers like this?”
Wally smiled into the rearview mirror. “No, not always”. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. During my first five years of driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer on the radio. Wayne Dyer said, “If you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. Stop complaining! Don’t be a duck. Be an Eagle. Ducks quack and complain while eagles soar above clouds and the crowd.”
“That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an Eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few changes at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”
“I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said.
“It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an Eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”
Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and had all the reasons not to make a different choice.
When looking at something as broad as improving a customers’ experience, “Limit the number of areas that we want to make a difference. The focus should not be on an overnight remodeling of the entire experience, but rather on improving piece by piece.”
This article is on Awesomeaj.com and I’ll link it in the show notes. It’s so good! I mean, don’t we all want to learn from Wally?? I sure as heck do!
So what did we learn today?? Well, we learned a heck of a lot about ducks! But in all seriousness, we learned:
Be excellent at 1-2 things and let someone else be excellent at their thing.
Don’t get so overwhelmed working IN your business that you don’t have time to work ON your business. Successful business owners take time to vision cast and grow their businesses because if you don’t, no one else will.
Have a “what can I do for you” mindset! Strive to be different from the pack. Be better. Always be a step ahead. Watch the trends. Have a solution for your client’s pain points before they even know they have them. Look for ways to create “wow” moments for your clients!
Overall, don’t be a duck. Soar like the Eagle you were created to be!!
I’d love to know how you relate to the “duck syndrome”. Have you ever felt any of these creep in on you?? What changes can you make in 2020 to be more Eagle minded??
Thanks again for tuning into this episode of the She Who Dares Podcast. I hope you have a fabulous holiday break and I can’t wait to see all of your fun Christmas morning pics on Instagram! Merry Christmas!!!!
I help creative business owners sustainably scale their business so they can create a thriving career and work-life balance.
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