In reading about the methods of training baby birds for flight the concept seemed so relevant not just for raising children but for training anyone in your life to move to another level. I had always heard that birds were simply dropped from the nest and at that point they could either fly or die. Of course before I made the assumption that my memory was correct or true for all birds I thought to research and read into it a little more.
Thank goodness I did read about it. It is actually a more gentle process that encourages the bird to get up and out on their own. So from the lessons on how birds learn to fly I have come up with a few points on giving your own fledglings flight lessons:
1) Birds first allow their babies to grow sufficient muscles before they train them to fly. A bird just out of the egg is in no way ready for flying lessons. They need full nourishment regularly that will help them to build the muscles necessary for growth. The same is true for the people in your life you are trying to help in the growth process. You cannot begin your training with flying lessons you first need to make sure that those you are assisting are ready for growth. This doesn’t mean that all muscles are completely grown to full capacity but the person should have enough strength to try. If you don’t wait for at least that you are setting people up for failure.
2) Birds learn first and foremost by observing the parent. We must exhibit the behaviors that we wish to see in others. Whether we are raising children or mentoring adults, it is important to demonstrate the behavior that you wish to see in the other person. If you wish to see confidence in a person in your care or creativity, you must demonstrate for them what that looks like.
We must also realize that we are always under observation. All too often when we teach we think we simply have to use our words and that is what should be most impressionable to the person we are dealing with. The saying “do as I say not as I do,” is irrelevant when training someone. It is our human nature to be visual. Since people are always watching you to become like you or to learn from you, then what you do is what makes you successful not necessarily what you say. Keep in mind that eyes are on you if you are in the role of helping someone in their growth and that a role model is seen more often than heard.
3) Birds find ways to coax their babies to leave the nest. This usually happens with food. At meal times a parent bird will put the food just out of reach of the child so that its desire to eat will be its driving force to leave the nest or fly.
This teaches us two things: a) Prepare a good meal, and b) wait for their hunger. These two elements are necessary when training someone for growth. When you want to see growth in a person you need to know what is desirable to them. If you are dealing with your child draw upon your understanding of what they enjoy and dangle the opportunity to gain access to it through the personal growth you are expecting to see. If you are dealing with someone you are mentoring, managing, etc., you will have to have those conversations that will help you know what to use for motivation.
You will also need to be mindful of when to dangle that particular meal in front of them. If you are stuffed from one meal there is no real motivation to go after the next. Once a person has overcome a milestone give them time to enjoy and digest it before you push them to the next.
4) Sometimes birds fall, but the parent does not leave them to die. In their efforts to get their meals sometimes a baby bird will fall from the nest. And if they do 3 things can happen: they can get up and make their way back up the tree to the nest, they can injure themselves and be stuck on the ground, or they can die.
Although some birds die it isn’t the most common experience. So it’s best not to worry about the death option yet we must be aware that fatal things can happen when we send people out on their own. The lesson here is that you have no control over life or death your only role is to teach growth.
The second option was injury. Now a bird that is injured and can’t make it back to the nest immediately is still cared for by the mother bird. She will bring the bird food but also still model those same behaviors that she wants her baby to emulate to get them back into the nest and try again. As parents and mentors we should do the same when our children and those we mentor have experiences that may injure them physically or psychologically. We cannot abandon those looking up to us and leave them to die. While they are down we need to keep modeling the behaviors we want to see, keep nourishing them and waiting for them to make it back to the top and try again.
Seeing a bird in flight is a beautiful thing, but the process of getting them to full flight is careful and methodical all in one. The same rings true for those of us trying to prepare others for a future of success, whether they be our children, students, or mentees. We must be visual examples of what we want to see and then use the rest of our efforts to bring them into greatness.