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Thanks for the bird! – Darby Rae

Thanks for the bird!

About ten years ago I read the book You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, by David H. Sandler.  In the first 15 chapters, the author is teaching the reader his seven step selling system.  Chapter 16, ‘Getting the Angle on Success,’ is where he talks about a concept called the Birdcage Challenge.  In this chapter, he challenges the reader to buy a birdcage, put it in their kitchen, and see how much time passes before someone buys them a bird.

The birdcage is a metaphor for our goals.  Setting it in the kitchen symbolizes telling others our goals.  Someone buying us a bird reflects our friends and family wanting to help us achieve our goals.  This story encourages us to speak our goals to our network of family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.  It is my experience that while there are always people who can’t wait to tell you something is unachievable; there are many others standing in line to help you get there.  (If you find the opposite is true—you may be hanging around the wrong people!)

Several months ago, I metaphorically brought my birdcage into the kitchen.  I discovered I had a burning desire to finish writing a fiction novel I had started, and wanted to have it published.  If this goal had surfaced years ago, I wouldn’t have told anyone.  Frankly, I used to be afraid if I failed, and all these people knew about it, I would look like a loser!  I shed this belief when my very wise mentor once told me (or maybe he told me repeatedly until it sunk in), “If you never fail, you aren’t trying hard enough!”  He pushed me often to stretch out of the safety of my comfort zone.

When I realized how committed I was to being a published author, I shared this goal with my family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.  Over the past year, the outpouring of support from my personal network of ‘bird buyers’ has been tremendous!  Initially this was in the form of accountability.  I hardly had a conversation with family or friends without the question surfacing, “have you finished the book yet?”  The most relentless to keeping me accountable to finishing my novel were my kids and their teenage friends.  You want to be accountable to a goal…tell your kids and their friends!  What parent wants to face their children and their children’s friends having to admit they gave up…they quit before reaching their goal.  Not this parent.

In addition to the accountability, I’ve been connected to other published authors (I never would have met) through a friend-of a friend-of a friend, several times.  Introductions to publishers have happened the same way.  Countless people have offered to sit and listen to a chapter and offer feedback.  Several friends have linked me with places to do public and private book readings and promotional events.  Pre-published books have even been sold.  An empty birdcage is a powerful thing!

So during this wonderful Thanksgiving season, I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all of those who saw my empty birdcage…and helped me fill it!  To my family, friends, friends of my children, friends of friends, and friends-of-friends-of-friends, ad infinitum…thanks for the bird!  Now go get your own birdcage.

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