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Quack or Soar?

September 04, 2016

Someone shared this story that I thought was quite something….

I was waiting in line for a ride to the airport somewhere in India. When a cab pulled up, the first thing I 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 went round the car to open the back passenger door for me.

He handed me a laminated card and said: 'I'm Wasu, your driver. While I'm loading your bags in the trunk I'd like you to read my mission statement.'

Taken aback, I read the card. It said: Wasu's Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.

This blew me away. Especially when I noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside; it was spotlessly clean!

As he slid behind the wheel, Wasu said, 'Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.”

I said jokingly, “No, I'd prefer a soft drink.”

Wasu smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, Lassi, water and orange juice.”

Almost stuttering at this point, I said, “I'll take a Lassi.”

Handing me my drink, Wasu said, “If you'd like something to read, I have The NST , Star and Sun Today.”

As we were pulling away, Wasu handed me another laminated card and said, “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you'd like to listen to the radio.”

And as if that was not enough, Wasu told me that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for me.

Then he advised me of the best route to my destination for that time of day. He also let me know that he'd be happy to chat and tell me about some of the sights or, if I preferred, he was happy to leave me with my own thoughts.

“Tell me, Wasu”, I was asked him amazed, “have you always served customers like this?”

Wasu smiled into the rear view mirror. "No, not always. In fact, it's only been this way in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard about POWER OF CHOICE one day." Power of choice is that you can be a duck or an eagle.

“If you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you'll rarely disappoint yourself.  You will get what you are expecting.  Then you’ll start complaining, or quacking like a duck.  Stop complaining!”

“Don't be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd. They go above their challenges, they ride the storms while the ducks run away”

“That hit me really hard when I heard it put like that”, said Wasu. “That was 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, slowly ... a few at a time. Each time my customers responded well, I did more.”

“I take it that it has paid off for you,” I said.

“It sure has,” Wasu replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I'll probably quadruple it. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on it.”

Long after I read the above story for the first time, my mind was still on Wasu. I re-read the story again a few more times and each time I read it, I made a few discoveries which I would like to share with you today.

For instance, the story does not say that Wasu bought a new cab, no. It says that the cab he drove was the same cab he had two years earlier, but two years earlier he was not making as much money as he was now. Secondly, he never changed towns or cities or his surroundings in order to make more money. The changes he made were directly in and on himself. Thirdly, the story does not say that he woke up one day and he was changed, no, it says he made little changes consistently, a few at a time. It also says that every time his customers responded well, he made more changes, which means there are things he would do sometimes and customers would not be happy with those things, so he would leave those out and only apply the changes that provoked a positive response from his customers.

Friends, in case you have not noticed, we are already in the 9th month of the year 2016. To me it feels like it was just yesterday that I was wishing you all a happy new year 2016. Not sure what happened but it feels like I missed out some months in between January and now. If you feel the same way too, there is still hope. We still have four solid months to do amazing things, but we have to start now!

So, if you were to look back at the eight months that have passed, how would you rate yourself? Would you say you have achieved everything you set out to achieve at the beginning of the year? Would you say you are happy with your progress this far? If you can say yes, then I guess this post is not for you today. However, I have a feeling many of us fall under the second category where we are struggling to accomplish half the things we set out to achieve at the beginning of this year.

Challenges are the main reasons why most people do not achieve the results they set out to look for. Just like in Wasu’s case, there were many challenges he and his fellow drivers experienced that led them to complain day in day out about the conditions of the business and maybe of the environment. Similarly, there are many reasons why you and I can complain about the environment within which we are operating, but we have to quickly realize that complaining will not change the situation, that complaining is equal to quacking like the ducks referred to in Wasu’s story. Speaking of quacking, who has ever heard the sounds eagles make? Forget the noise, who has ever seen an eagle on the ground? Those guys spend most of their time way above the ground, away from all the noise, away from all the crowded spaces, away from all the pollution and away from all the limitations found on the ground. They only come down to grab their food then off again they soar.

Friends I believe there is a Wasu in every one of us. Each one of us has the potential to do a make over and be a completely different person, but it has to start from within. Not sure who said this but whoever it is was so right when he said,“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine”. How about you start by not complaining about your situation and look for ways you can change yourself to take advantage of your situation like Wasu did? 

He heard a message, it touched him to his core and there and then made a choice to do as the message bid him to; he had a complete attitude change. He decided to stop quacking like a duck and took a leap of faith to start soaring like an eagle. Like someone else said, “small changes eventually add up to huge results”. Wasu is a testament of this quote because as he says, the little changes he made to himself and his business have doubled his income and his expectation is that by the end of the current year, his income will have doubled twice.

I don’t know what your challenges are but I know one thing for sure, they will not change or disappear overnight. However, you have the power inside you to focus on making those little changes that will add up into one major transformation one day. Like Confucius said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”

If you can make a choice this month to make those small changes every day, I can promise you that by the end of this year you will look back and be amazed at the outcome you will see.  A little progress EVERY DAY adds up to big results. Do something daily that will bring you closer to achieving the results you desire.

Remember, you have the power in you to either continue quacking like a duck or continue soaring like an eagle. The choice is in your hands and not in the circumstances surrounding you!

Quack or Soar, which do you choose?

PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 4th September, 2016, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

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