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Feed the Ducks

By Jessica Albon

When I was a bit under 2, my grandmother took me to the duck pond. She gave me a slice of bread and sent me off to feed the ducks.

Except I didn’t. Instead, I clutched the piece of bread while the ducks gathered all around me, trying to grab it. They’d come close and I’d turn my back on them. Round and round we went until my grandmother intervened and showed me how to break off pieces of bread and toss them to the ducks.

We do this with our Tribes, too.

We create this amazing thing and we drop hints and we gather everyone round the campfire and then…

feeding the ducks

Frank Atkins feeding ducks at Madison Park on Lake Washington, December 20, 1956 from IMLS Digital Collections and Content.

We clutch that slice of bread close to our chests and keep turning round and round in circles.

It’s cute when you’re two.

When I was a teenager, we had ducks (and chickens and sheep and horses that weren’t ours but that somehow I was responsible for taking care of… *sigh* that’s living in the country for you!). So I can say with some experience that when you don’t feed the ducks, they get pretty cranky pretty fast. And they’re rather on the rough side with those beaks of theirs.

Our Tribes aren’t like that. They won’t peck and pester and demand we share. Rather, they’ll just leave. Because our Tribes need nourishment and inspiration and encouragement the same way ducks need food. They need *us*.

The ways we turn our back on our Tribes are many and complicated as are the reasons we do it. So let’s keep things practical today and just look at straightforward ways to Feed the Ducks.

  1. Publish regularly. If you sell a product to consumers, you need to publish at least once a week (more is better). If you have any other kind of business, monthly is the absolute minimum you can get away with. Send them SOMETHING regularly.
  2. Share more of yourself. Share glimpses of your works in progress. What’s on your desk today? What are you excited about tackling? What’s challenging you? What’s keeping you obsessed? This doesn’t have to be all about work, but it also doesn’t have to be uncomfortably-personal. It’s okay to have boundaries about what you won’t share, but it’s not okay to keep that slice of bread (that you brought for the ducks not your lunch) to yourself!
  3. Enjoy something fabulous. Sometimes we get so heads-down focused on doing our work that it can feel like there’s nothing really interesting to share. It’s not true, of course, but when it feels that way, it can be really easy to act that way. So, especially if this one feels like a challenge for you, find something to Savor (and share) today.
  4. Learn something new. I’ve just started to learn to play the guitar. I am terrible at it. (I think it was Erma Bombeck–though several Google searches are leaving me with nothing to confirm it–who claimed that hobbies are only fun as long as you’re terrible at them.) But there’s so much to be discovered in the learning of something. Not interested in picking up a musical instrument? Why not find out what your Tribe loves more than ducks love bread? Or learn about that city you’d like to visit. Learning about people and the world around us opens us up so we’re ready to sit around that campfire with our Tribes. Plus, it makes for more interesting cocktail party conversation than, “Did you see that news report on…?”
  5. Think bite-sized pieces. If you have a great big bread slice and you toss it to the ducks, there tends to be a scuffle. Now, your Tribe won’t brawl over what you’re sharing, but having more than enough to go around can go a long way towards building your relationship with your Tribe. Sure, high end offers, VIP programs and the like are great for the bottom line, but they can feel really… complicated to offer. So, make sure you’ve got a healthy balance–big stuff and little stuff–and you’ll feel all the more comfortable sharing everything you offer with your Tribe.

Instead of clutching that piece of bread tightly to your chest, challenge yourself to Feed the Ducks today. It’s a heck of a lot more fun than going round in circles ;-).

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