Don’t Send Your Ducks to Eagle School


Duck And With Ducklings Crossing A PathA good friend and the founder of my firm Cornerstone Kansas City, Michael Shirley, recently spoke to a group of executives to advise them on the process of selecting executives for their organizations.

“The first rule of management,” said Michael “is don’t send your ducks to eagle school.”

I love that advice.  Why? Because ducks can’t become eagles, and the same goes for humans.

Think of it this way:

  • Good people are found, not changed.
  • They can change themselves, but you can’t change them.
  • If you want good people, you have to find them. Don’t hire mediocre people and try to train them.
  • If you want motivated people, you have to find them…not try to motivate them.

In other words, the fire must be lit on the inside… not on the outside.eagle

Recently, a well-known national magazine had a full-page ad for a hotel chain. The first line of the attention-grabbing ad said “We do not teach our people to be nice.” The second line said “We hire nice people.”

And that’s how it works! Motivation is a mystery.
Why are some people motivated and others aren’t? Why does one commission-only salesperson see his/her first prospect at 7 a.m. and the other sees his/hers at 11 a.m.? Is it because that happens to be their “office hours”?  I don’t know the answer. Let’s file that under mysteries of the mind.

Suppose a very wealthy, successful speaker says to an audience of 800 people: “I read this book and it started me on the road to becoming financially independent.”

Guess how many of the 800 go out and get the book? Very few. Why wouldn’t everyone go get the book? Call it mysteries of the mind again.

Or how about this one.  Another highly successful speaker delivers a compelling talk to an audience of 1000.  Afterwards, one person walks out and says, “I’m going to change my life.”  Another person walks out with a yawn and says, “I’ve heard all this stuff before.”  Why is that? Yep, mysteries of the mind.

The point here is don’t waste ANY time trying to turn ducks into eagles. Hire people who already have the motivation, drive and attitude of eagles. And then watch them soar.

In Kansas City, our team has been helping executive management teams hire eagles for the past 35 years. And after several hundred successful search engagements, we know how to tell the difference. If you have a particularly challenging or mission critical position to fill, get in touch. We’d love to help.

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