The Birds and the Dragon

fable of the birds and the dragon

Once, there were three birds who shared the tallest tree in the forest; a sparrow, a jay and a cardinal. Though they lived in the same tree, these birds lived very different lives.

Among the lowest branches, the sparrow struggled, seldom having enough to eat, and often settling for the leanest worms or for any bug it could find. The sparrow neglected its nest, leaving threads unraveled and only patching the sides when the nest threatened to come undone entirely.

Up in the middle of the tree, lived the jay. The jay had perfected a technique for capturing the fattest grubs and—though it lived fairly well—like the sparrow, the jay had to hunt daily for its food. Though the jay would sometimes dream of something larger and more luxurious, its nest was a comfortable size, well-kept and nicely decorated.

Finally, above the jay and sparrow, in a large, spacious nest, lived the cardinal. The cardinal seldom hunted for its own food like the other birds. Instead, the cardinal had built a number of bug traps around the forest. The cardinal simply offered a small percentage to the sparrow, and in return, the sparrow occasionally harvested and delivered the bugs.

One morning, an old dragon came to stand at the bottom of their great tree and called to them. As the birds assembled, the dragon said, “Neighbors, I have a small token of my appreciation for the beautiful music you bring to our forest. My only condition is that you must allow me to return tomorrow to hear how you’ve used my gift.”

Curious, the birds agreed. The dragon gave each bird a silver coin and told them to do with it what they would.

Snatching up its coin, the sparrow flew straight to the town market and purchased a brightly-colored silk ribbon with which to play and decorate its nest.

The jay—after some careful consideration—made a payment toward a debt owed to the cardinal and used the rest to see a show at the local stage.

Lastly—after taking nearly the whole day to ponder—the cardinal flew to the market and purchased as many Baby’s Breath seeds as it could carry. Returning home, the cardinal settled in for the evening.

The next morning, the dragon visited them. Chirping happily, the sparrow and jay told the dragon of their purchases and the dragon listened, delighted.

When the dragon turned to the cardinal, the cardinal said, “Gracious dragon, thank you for your gift. My I ask, isn’t it true you highly prize the sweet berries from the brier patch?”

The dragon smiled. “Why, yes, I do,” he said.

“Dragon, with my coin, I bought Baby’s Breath seeds; a loved treat among birds,” the cardinal said. “I propose to trade the seeds to a few of our flock in exchange for collecting a dragon’s mouthful of sweet berries for you each morning. In return, I only ask you to pay two coins for every mouthful. In this way, I can continue to supply us in seeds and you in berries. Does this sound agreeable?”

“It certainly does!” cheered the dragon. “A marvelous idea!”

And so, the wise cardinal came to serve both the dragon and the birds, to the benefit of all.

Perspiration Precipitates Performance and Other Marketing Lessons Learned

Marketing Ideas Douglas Criticism Quote

The following is a letter I received from a dear client, John Douglas, who also happens to be a talented local photographer. Over the past year, John has undergone the rigors of becoming an SEO-savvy entrepreneur. John is a model student; eager to learn, invested in his own success and quick to pick up the strategies required to build success, both online and offline.

I asked John if I could share his letter with you. I feel his experience may resonate and help normalize others who may feel as he did as they attempt to break into their local marketplace.

As I mentioned to John, it is wonderful to see yourself progress toward self-confidence as a business person and professional. Yes, it’s hard to teach such things without the frustrating mechanism of time and the roller-coaster of the success/failure continuum. Take pleasure in recognizing your inner growth. Lessons like these are learned not just intellectually, but also at a cellular level, through life discovery. This means such valuable lessons become truly yours, adding onto the wisdom you already possess. You are richer today–both in the spirit and in the material–as a result.

In support of your efforts,

Matt Schoenherr

online marketing course divider

Hey Matt:
It’s been close to a year since we started working together. I thought I would share some observations with you. I have been seeing increasing activity and interest in my work as manifest by the number of requests I am getting now. Am I as busy as I’d like to be? Absolutely not, but I’ve learned to be patient. Some random thoughts:

  • Success is measured incrementally, and doesn’t happen according to your prescribed schedule. I have learned be comfortable with even modest gains. As you are well aware the last year has seen some frustrations on my part, largely because I was focusing on the success of others and not on my personal successes. I have learned to focus on myself and my abilities and not be concerned with the success or failure of others.
  • Don’t evaluate your success on the short term. It has taken me a while to assimilate this, and I’m sure you’ve told me this a number of times. Being an engineer, I plotted a linear regression of where I expected to be in a year with regard to web traffic. Am I going to reach my goal? I don’t know. Do I care? No.
  • “P cubed”. Perspiration precipitates performance. Gains are not achieved without some hard work and drudgery. I never imagined it would be so difficult to to get top ranking, and to hold on to decent ranking.
  • Web design is fun, but web maintenance is boring and mundane. The website design looks fantastic, and I am still happy with it today after nearly a year.
  • Word of mouth is the best advertising. I firmly believe that reputation trumps any search engine rankings or website designs. SEO is a way of getting your foot in the door and establishing yourself as a credible resource.
  • Does top ranking mean you are the best? Absolutely not. I have learned that you have to have faith in people and recognize that they will make decisions to hire me based on their criteria, and not my criteria.
  • Learn to see the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. Appreciate the constructive, ignore the destructive.
  • Has it been worth the time, effort, and money? Absolutely! I would not be seeing the interest I am seeing without decent ranking on keyword searches. Thank you for your efforts.

Lastly, thank you for being patient with me in the last year. You have been my technical advisor, mentor, and (at times) my spiritual and psychological counselor.  =)

I am very appreciative of all of your efforts and assistance in the past year.

John Douglas
Photographer