Physical Training May 2010
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From the Teacher's Corner 7:
Ducks and Eagles

copyright 2010 Douglas Tong, all rights reserved

Author and motivational speaker Harvey Mackay told a wonderful story that I thought I would share with all our aspiring and practicing teachers. I will paraphrase his story. It goes something like this:

A traveler was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing this traveler noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. An enthusiastic cab driver jumped out. He was smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and pressed black slacks. He went around and opened the door for the traveler.

He handed the passenger a laminated card and said: “I’m William, your driver. While I’m loading your bags, I’d like you to read my mission statement.”

Surprised, the passenger looked at the card. It said:

William’s Mission Statement

To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.

The passenger was impressed, especially when he noticed that the interior of the cab was as clean as the outside. Then William got in the cab and said: “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have one thermos of regular and one of decaf.”

The passenger said, “That’s OK. I’d really prefer a soft drink.” William smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with soft drinks, water, and orange juice.”

Handing him his drink, William then said, “ If you’d like something to read, I have the New York Times, Time, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today.” And as they were leaving the airport, William handed the passenger another card. This one read, “These are the stations we get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.” And if this wasn’t enough, William told the passenger that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable enough.

Then he advised the passenger of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about the sights or, if the passenger preferred, he’d leave him with his own thoughts.

The amazed passenger then asked, “Tell me William, have you always served customers this way?”

William smiled into the rear view mirror and said, “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been a few years. My first 5 years driving, I spent most of the time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard on the radio one morning that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. The announcer said, ‘Stop complaining! Make yourself different from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’

That hit home,“ said William. “That was me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked at all the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers unfriendly, and the customers unhappy. So I decided to change some things. I changed a few at a time. When my customers liked it, I put in some more.”

“It looks like it has paid off for you,” said the passenger.

“It sure has,” William said. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine.”

William was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. William made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like the ducks and start soaring like the eagles.

And Harvey Mackay* has told this story to more than fifty cab drivers and only two tried his idea themselves. The rest of the drivers just told him all the reasons why they couldn’t do it…

I like what he said:
If you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll probably have a bad day.

Moral of the story: It’s all about attitude…
* Harvey Mackay, motivational speaker, is best known as the author of the such business best-sellers as Swim With the Sharks (Without Being Eaten Alive).

For more information about Harvey Mackay, see his website:

Mr. Tong has a Master’s in Education in Curriculum Studies.

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