Lessons from saving a duck’s life


So there I was, jawing with friends at Starbucks, when the place erupted with shouts and plaintive cries.

“Oh my God, oh my God!” 

“Why doesn’t somebody do something?” 

A half-dozen teenage girls pressed against the large floor-to-ceiling windows. They were watching a mallard duck from a nearby lagoon waddle across the busy street, dodging traffic. 

It was horrible. Every time the little green-headed guy began to amble toward the curb, a speeding car or truck sent him scurrying back to the center divider. 

“Oh no! Eeek!” the girls yelped. 

I couldn’t stand it. I excused myself, pushed my way outside, and marched into the street. A horn blared. I ignored it and approached Dewey. (I’d named him in my head after Donald’s wayward nephew.) To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do when I reached him. 

But that wasn’t my decision to make. The duck took one look at me, quacked an expletive, and launched himself into the air and to safety. Last time I saw Dewey, he was winging west. 

I re-entered Starbucks. The teenagers cheered and applauded. 

“Thanks!” one of them said. 

“You’re a hero,” my wife Debbie said, beaming a smile. 

The barista on duty snorted and didn’t even offer me a free mocha for my selfless deed. 

However, my adventure did teach me three valuable business lessons. 

1) Most people look toward others to lead. It’s easy to be a leader in business, in your community, or in the course of day-to-day living. Just take the teensy-weensy step no one else will take. Your potential customers or clients want you to make their decisions so they don’t have to. 

2) Take action! When you spot a problem and are positioned to do something about it, act — and do it quickly! Procrastination is the enemy. Heck, it can even get a duck killed. 

3) Your leadership will earn applause. But it will also be taken for granted by many, and even resented by a few. Be thankful for the kudos; shrug off the rest. 

Which reminds me. Ducks, like some people, can be ungrateful little buggers.

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Lessons from saving a duck’s life — 4 Comments

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  2. Wally, great thoughts!! Since I was there, this opened my eyes to what I learned that day – who knew.