- East St. Louis School District 189
Eagle or Oyster?
A Spark from ARC
August 16, 2019
School has begun and we are off to a great start! As we embark upon this school year, I am reminded of the story of the eagle and the oyster. I encourage you to read the passages below and find some “golden nuggets.”
EAGLE OR OYSTER?
When the oyster was created, it was guaranteed absolute economic and social security. The oyster has a house, a shell, and shelter to protect it from enemies. When hungry, the oyster simply opens its shell and food rushes in. The timid oyster has freedom from want, but will never experience the thrill of conquering a challenge.
When the eagle was created, it was declared, “The blue sky is the limit; build your own house! So, the brave-hearted eagle built on the highest mountain where storms threaten every day. An eagle knows when the storm is approaching long before it breaks. It will fly to some high point and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, it is soaring above. The eagle doesn’t escape the storm; it simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rides on the winds that bring the storm.
The eagle, not the oyster, is the emblem of America and the symbol of leadership.
SEVEN LEADERSHIP LESSONS TO LEARN FROM AN EAGLE
- Eagles Fly Alone and at High Altitudes: They don't fly with sparrows, ravens, and other small birds.
MEANING: Stay away from narrow-minded people, those that bring you down. You are known by the company you keep. Eagles fly with Eagles. Keep good company. But, accept that you may be alone at the top.
- Eagles have an Accurate Vision: They have the ability to focus on something as far as 5 kilometers away. No matter the obstacles, the eagle will not move his focus from the prey until he grabs it.
MEANING: Have a vision and remain focused no matter what the obstacles and you will succeed.
- Eagles do not Eat Dead Things: They feed only on fresh prey.
MEANING: Do not rely on your past success; keep looking for new frontiers to conquer. Leave your past where it belongs, in the past.
- Eagles Love the Storm: When clouds gather, the eagle gets excited and uses the storm's wind to lift itself higher. Once it finds the wind of the storm, the eagle uses the raging storm to lift itself above the clouds. This gives the eagle an opportunity to glide and rest its wings. In the meantime, all the other birds hide in the branches and leaves of trees.
MEANING: Face your challenges head-on knowing that they will make you emerge stronger and better than you were. We can use the storms of life to rise to greater heights. Achievers are not afraid to rise to greater heights. Achievers are not afraid of challenges; rather they relish them and use them profitably.
- Always Test the Commitment of the Other Person: When a female eagle meets a male eagle and they want to mate, she flies down to earth, picks a twig and flies back into the air with the male eagle in hot pursuit. Once she has reached a height high enough for her, she drops the twig and lets it fall to the ground while she watches. The male eagle chases after the twig and catches it before it reaches the ground, then brings it back to the female eagle. The female eagle grabs the twig and flies to a much higher altitude and drops the twig again for the male eagle to chase. This goes on for hours with the height increasing each time until the female eagle is assured that the male eagle has mastered the art of picking the twig, which shows commitment. Then and only then will she allow him to mate with her.
MEANING: Whether in private life or business, one should test the commitment of the people intended for partnership.
- Eagles Prepare for Training: Eagles remove the feathers and soft grass in the nest so that the young ones get uncomfortable in preparation for flying. The young eagle eventually flies when it becomes unbearable to stay in the nest.
MEANING: One should always be prepared to leave their comfort zone. There is no growth there.
- When the Eagle Grows Old: As an eagle ages, his feathers become weak and cannot take him as fast and as high as it should. This makes him weak and could make him die. So, he retires to a place far away in the mountains. While there, he plucks out the weak feathers on his body and breaks its beak and claws against the rocks until he is completely bare, in a very bloody and painful process. Then he stays in this hiding place until he has grown new feathers, a new beak and claws and then he comes out flying higher than ever before.
MEANING: We occasionally need to shed off negative habits and negative people, no matter how difficult; things that burden us or add no value to our lives need to be removed. You will be better off without these negative things or people. Develop the gift of goodbye. When people can walk away from youk, let them walk. Be wise enough to narrow your circle when it is necessary.
I am sure you encountered some challenges in the past week. Take comfort in the leadership lessons from the eagle and use your courage, commitment, compassion and capacity to rise above all challenges. Make it a great school year!
Arthur R. Culver, Superintendent