There is a story about an eagle. While still an infant in its nest and being nursed by its mom, the mom died and the baby eagle was orphaned. One day, the nest fell from the rocks where it was nestled and the baby eagle was on the ground, struggling for survival when a flock of chickens came and saw it. Thinking that it was another chicken, they brought him home to be cared for. Soon, the eagle grew up, but because it was raised in a community of chickens it walked, ate, and acted like one of them. All his life, the eagle thought he was a chicken daily scratching for food on the ground, instead of flying and swooping down on its prey as eagles do.
One day, the eagle saw an eagle flying above. He thought to himself, how he wish he could fly just like that flying eagle. He told his friends who are all chickens, how he wished he could fly to which his friends responded in chorus, “How stupid you are for thinking that way, that will never happen”. Sadly, he accepted his fate. He realized that wishing something that is impossible, can only be met with rejection and derision. He buried his wish and decided to never open it up again.
Then, one day, while walking alone in the fields, an eagle saw him. “Pssst!” the eagle called him. Let’s fly and do something exciting. No!! That is not for me. I cannot. I am a chicken, not an eagle. “You are an eagle!” The other eagle said emphatically. “Look, come with me and I will prove to you.”
Soon, the orphaned eagle mingled with the community of eagles. The eagles treated him well and did not judge him. He tried and he failed and tried again to do what eagles can do, with each failure being met with encouragement instead of condemnation. Soon, he was able to fly. He realized how he wasted his time, thinking that he was a chicken. The community of eagles helped him regain his real identity. As he realized his identity, it became easy for him to do what is so natural for him to do.
This story may sound absurd, but it is meant to illustrate the importance of belonging to a community where we can find help in realizing our real identity and become what we were meant to be. Your greatness lies hidden until caring people helps draw it out from you.
We should ask ourselves tough questions. Am I growing as a human being? Does my community promote my growth? Does my community help me discover my unique talents and strengths? How do I now fare compared to last year? Did my community help me achieve something during the past year?
When it comes to building our future, who we hang around with matters.