Self-awareness is a key component of emotional intelligence, of which self-confidence and accurate self-assessment are key characteristics. Self-confidence is certainty about one’s self-worth and capabilities, and accurate self-assessment is knowing one’s strengths and limits. I was vividly reminded to these two attributes a few weeks ago, when an elderly relative recounted a story from Indian folklore that I recall from cobwebbed memories of my childhood.
An elegant black crow lived in a forest absolutely satisfied and happy with his life. But one day, while flying through the forest, he came upon a swan. Landing in front of the swan, he said. “Swan, you are so vividly white and I am so black. You are so beautiful – you are the happiest bird in the world.” Much to his surprise, the swan replied. “Actually, I always thought I was the happiest bird on earth until I saw the parrot. The parrot has two colours. I now know that the parrot is the happiest bird on the planet.” So the crow approached the parrot. And the parrot explained. “I lived a very happy life … until I saw a peacock. I have only two colours, but the peacock has many. The peacock is far happier than I.” So the crow went looking for a peacock and found one in a zoo, surrounded by hundreds of people, all gathered around to see him. Later that day, after the crowds had left, the crow approached the peacock. “Dear peacock,” the crow said, “you are so beautiful. Every day thousands of people come to see you. When people see me, they immediately shoo me away. I think you are the happiest bird in creation.” The peacock replied, “I always thought that I was the most beautiful and happy bird in the world. But because of my beauty, I have been trapped in this zoo. I have looked carefully around the zoo, and I have come to the realization that the crow is the only bird not kept in a cage. So as far as I am concerned, you dear crow, who can happily roam everywhere, are the happiest bird around.”
It’s a common trap many of us fall into – believing that the grass is greener elsewhere. As we launch into a new year, perhaps it’s worth pausing and reflecting upon what we have, instead of what we don’t. Whether it’s in our personal or our professional lives, what big things could we accomplish, what great barriers could we overcome, simply by focusing on how best to utilize the strengths and talents that we have, rather than concentrating on our shortcomings?
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