That’s the first line of a cute little song by Danny Kaye (you won’t remember him!) and the story was all about an ugly duckling who turned out to be a cygnet. When he lost his dull brown feathers he became a beautiful white swan, but he had to be shown his reflection before he would believe it.


Most of us start out in life clothed in the dull brown feathers of limiting, conditioned beliefs.


People from our part of town don’t do well.

You were always the shy one.

Those who ask don’t get.

You’ll never amount to anything.

Good girls let other people go first.

Always obey the rules.

Wait until you’re invited.

Do as you are told.

Big boys don’t cry, good girls don’t get angry.

Make sure you please other people before you please yourself.


Recognise any of those? I certainly do. I was a chronically shy kid, and I always stood on the fringes of the group waiting for someone to notice me. I even do it on Facebook. This conditioning affects us all, and limits how much we enjoy life.


I’m not suggesting that our parents were bad people. They were doing the best they could with the resources they had. But we became programmed with the beliefs and injunctions of yesteryear, and in order to operate in today’s world we need to be able to tell the difference between useful skills and out-dated programming. –For example, keep clean, be kind, be a good listener, are all still useful. Look for a job for life, and put up with anything so you can keep together for the children are out-dated programming. Some of this is easy to spot, other parts are much more subtle and will affect your behaviour unconsciously. That’s like running your computer with a virus that takes half of your processing power.


So what does all that mean to you? You might want to start a process of updating your self-image. Look out for out-dated and limiting beliefs- they tend to be hidden away in areas where you don’t do well. Find an area of your life like this – it might be that you don’t ask for what you want at work. Maybe everyone else gets offered the training, extra responsibility or promotion. Ask yourself what you do to make this happen? Obviously you don’t mean to, but do you give subtle messages that you are OK where you are, you are not looking for professional growth? Do you talk yourself out of making applications? Do you decide that you wouldn’t have wanted it anyway? When you have put your finger on the general area of the problem, ask yourself where you might have learned those behaviours or messages. Did you have a parent who avoided responsibility? I have a young relative who avoids responsibility in exactly the same way as his father did a generation ago. When you are clear about the old message, decide what the new message is. It might be I am a confident professional and I am looking for opportunities and progression. Decide that that is who you are. You are a swan now, not a cygnet or an ugly duckling with tatty feathers. Become a leader in your own life!


We are all swans, but to become one properly you have to be able to shake off those dull brown feathers. Take a good look in the mirror at the swan that you are! Good luck with the transformation.


I am a professional Coach and Therapist, and I coach people to achieve their full potential. If you want a chat about where you are heading next, message me and we can set up a discovery call.