Don’t Be a Jemima Puddle-Duck

I recently read the Beatrix Potter story of Jemima Puddle-Duck to my daughters. Jemima grows tired of being unable to hatch her own eggs in the barnyard. She is a nervous duck, and her eggs keep getting taken by the farmer’s wife (who thinks hens are better at hatching eggs). So she sets off into the forest alone to find a suitable place to nest.

There, she runs across a fox, who is delighted to help her. He compliments her, builds her a nest, lures her to come back day after day, until the eggs are nearly ready to hatch. (Which of us doesn’t like a fox to pay a compliment to us now and then?) At that time, he has a pot prepared, so that he can eat the eggs, and her.

Once she realizes he is out to snatch not only her eggs but her life, it’s nearly too late… except that the barnyard dogs come and wrestle with the wily fox, and take Jemima back home. Later, dear Jemima manages to hatch eggs in her own barnyard, but not too many… because she is still of the nervous ilk.

How often do we grow discontent in our barnyard, thinking maybe we can find the golden egg as soon as we abandon the simple hens in our midst?  Maybe we set off on our own pursuit, thinking if only we could go off to a woodsy hollow somewhere, and use our own devices, surely we’d grow rich. Then the sly fox deceives us, we nearly give away our entire nest full of eggs, and we have to be rescued by the friends and family we originally thought were rather common and not terribly knowledgeable.

Okay, this may be a stretch, but we’ve seen this process manifest in a few ways. Think of the man who decides after 15 years of marriage that he’d rather try someone younger and newer, only to realize in another 15 years that he has lost his relationship with his children. Think about the entrepreneur who believes the get-rich-yesterday scheme, quits his job, and invests his life savings into something like invisible water.

Those may be examples that we can’t relate to, because they are not well enough disguised in potential profit… but I think most of us have enjoyed a risk-taking fantasy at some point. And risk taking is a very necessary part of success. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, had a very handsome job on Wall Street when he quit to sell books online. What is the key then to making sure your eggs aren’t devoured?

Are you itching to do something bigger and grander, and tempted to venture out into the forest? If you do, please bear these things in mind:

1)You may need those common barnyard dogs. Bring your friends with you. Ask their opinion along the way. And be nice to them (pack plenty of treats).

2)When you meet foxes who charm you with cozy nests, see if they also have big black pots outside. Research your investments. Google the company you are interested in and check for scam reports. Double check the facts that an “expert” tells you on how to market your business online, before committing to more than you would spend on an overeasy egg at the local diner. (Okay, that’s enough about eggs, I promise.) If a deal is really that amazing, it most likely won’t come with a “one day only” offer.

3)If the forest is scary, don’t be afraid to come back to the barnyard for a while. At least you will have had an adventure which you can share with the gossiping goose. (Be sure not to lose your way out there either.)

What adventure are you considering? Who will you choose to trust?

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