People Are a Lot Like Seagulls
Here I am in sunny California. What better place to be than the beach! Yesterday we packed up the blankets and beach chairs and trooped off to the beach. But, as Murphy dictates, it was foggy when we got there, and nobody except Neil was brave enough to touch the water. The rest of us sat watching him, just talking, wishing we had brought some wood to have a fire. That’s when my sister broke out the popcorn, and I started feeding the seagulls – away from the blankets and unhatted heads. I started by tossing a piece here and there into their midst. They’d squawk and trample over each other and one of them would quickly snatch up the popcorn. It was a different bird each time. Neil, when he saw the seagull fun, came back up the beach, grabbed some popcorn and plunked himself down in the sand, arm outreached, to feed the seagulls by hand. “Dude, that’s not going to work!” I said. But it did!
One Seagull to Rule them All…
Seagulls aren’t very smart. But, then, neither are most people. Seagulls have a comfort zone. So do humans. Seagulls don’t get rewarded for staying in their comfort zone. Neither do humans. Neil sat there in the sand with a pop corn and waited until a bird worked up enough courage to snatch it from him. What I saw was a clear distinction in bird personalities.
The Brave One: One bird was brave enough to take the popcorn from Neil’s outstretched hand. It took a while to get him/it started, but once he figured out that getting popcorn wasn’t all that complicated or dangerous, he kept coming back for more. One seagull, out of dozens, took the food from Neil – over and over again. I wanted to give him a bird promotion for his good attitude and hard work.
The Bully: The brave bird was the one who ignored his peers and took flight, swooping in to snatch the popcorn and landing to gobble it before preparing for another pass. But, there was another bird, sort of a dick, that prevented most of the other birds from going for the popcorn. Whenever it seemed a bird was going to work up some courage, and it would take a step or two forward, there was the bully bird. He’d squawk and nip the bold bird back into submission. In fact, this bully bird spent the whole time holding back other birds, but, for his troubles, he never actually got any popcorn himself.
The Cowards: Most of the birds wanted that popcorn that Neil was offering. They’d keep taking steps forward only then to be thwarted by the bully bird. They’d back up and keep eyeballing the food, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to bull-rush that obstructionist bird so that one of them could get the popcorn. Instead, they watched as our one brave bird kept getting, over and over again, popcorn kernel after popcorn kernel.
If those birds were human they’d probably think it was unfair that one bird got all the food while the rest of them sat paralyzed with fear from both the known, the bully bird, and the unknown, Neil. People are the same way. We eyeball the things we want, and we are desirous of them; but most people can’t get beyond a few simple fears, to take the risks necessary to reap rewards. That one brave bird was not taking success from the masses of other birds. He was simply taking what was available. The other birds had only themselves to blame for their failures. They let the bully control them and they let fear, en masse, into their heads. No popcorn for them — bird brains.