The Animal School Fable

Under the Oaks blog: The Animal School Fable reminds us to keep searching for our expertise, because everyone has something they're amazing atContinuing with talking about work-life balance this week, I recently heard of this fable on The Jillian Michaels Show podcast and thought it was a perfect follow up to Crystal’s post from Tuesday. The fable is called The Animal School. It was a book written by George Reavis when he was the Assistant Superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools in the 1940s. Here’s the condensed version of the story:

Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world” so they organized a school. They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.Under the Oaks blog: The Animal School Fable reminds us to keep searching for our expertise, because everyone has something they're amazing atThe duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there.

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceeding well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

You can read the whole fable here (a PDF will open).

Regardless of the clear politics of the story, I thought the other message was to remember that we are all individuals. You will never be the same as anyone else. Often times we are so caught up in “doing and having it all” that we forget that we don’t have to do and have it all and, in reality, no one does it all or has it all (no matter how hard their “reality” television show makes it seem like they do).

In trying to balance out my life, I’m working on focusing on only a few small projects at a time and really giving them my full attention. That’s the only way I can truly find out what it is I like and what makes me happy (which is key to being successful) and what I’m really good at. I wanted to share this fable with you all in hopes it can inspire you to do the same.

– A

images via

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