Lessons Learned From The Animal School Fable About Strengths And Weaknesses #5MinMotivation


A great fable is not only Evergreen but teaches a great lesson.  The Animal School Fable by George Reavis is one that teaches us the importance of focusing on our strengths.  Too many of us worry about weaknesses and forget to leverage our core skills.  Companies have their teams create development plans aimed at their opportunities but say nothing about how to leverage their strengths.


Let’s take a lesson from the Animal School Fable.


The Animal School: A Fable by George Reavis


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.


The 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 exceedingly well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.


The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.


Does this fable have a moral?


Note: This story was written when George Reavis was the Assistant Superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools back in the 1940s! This content is in the public domain and free to copy, duplicate, and distribute.


What is the lesson you take from the fable?


Let the ducks swim.  Let the rabbits run.  Let the eagles fly.  We don’t want a school of average ducks.


Play to your strengths.  If you don’t use your talents, eventually, you lose your talents.


If you build on your strengths enough, your weaknesses become irrelevant. 


There is a great temptation to fix ourselves or others by investing time to improve on our areas of opportunities.  Instead, focus on how your strengths can get you to where you need to go.


Your strengths are needed somewhere.  How can you find it?  Team up with people who are good at what you are not good at and make that team stronger.


Which animal from the story above do you relate most with?  Which talent will you let shine today?


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