You’re a Duck
Have you ever heard of the saying, “If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck then it’s a duck.” It is
one of the most simple, obvious and common sense observations that can be made and executives love
it. I will explain why later but for now just know that you are a duck.
My sister has spent many a year in the lower administrative realms of the business community and has
always been amused when she has had the opportunity to share one of my observations with another
under appreciated worker twittering between a state of frustration and anger. On one occasion she was
working a temporary contract position in support of a training department at a large telecommunications
company. The company had brought her and another girl in to process paperwork and do data entry for a
series of training classes that they were going to host. The assignment was originally presented as a
three month full time position. It worked out for the first six weeks and when the classes finished the
company decided that they did not need 40 hours a week from two people. They didn’t want to loose the
two resources so they decided to drop both temps down to 16 hours or so a week. (Note: They did not
value them, they just didn’t want to have to go trough the process of finding new people again later. The
company was lazy.) The other girl was indignant.
“ How dare they insult me like this.” She said, “Don’t they know what I do around here. Don’t they know
how much work I have to do. I can’t possibly do it all with less hours.”
The other girl was so upset and in need of money that she quit but before she did my sister had a chance
to speak with her.
My sister pulled her aside and said, “I am going to help you out and tell you something that you’re not
going to appreciate right now and you will probably never like but at some point it might give you some
piece of mind.”
She looked at the other girl seriously, put her hand on the other girls shoulder, and said, “You’re a duck.”
Of course the other girl looked back at my sister as if she was crazy and waited for the punch line.
To which my sister plainly explained, “You see a duck on the water. It appears to slowly, effortlessly glide
across the water without a care in the world and with little apparent value. This is how the company sees
“All the while,” she continued “That ducks little web feet are churning away under the water like a little
outboard motor in order to move it across the pond. That duck is working its little tail feathers off to
accomplish what at the time seems very important to the duck but in reality is a relatively insignificant
task.” In the end, who really cares if the duck gets to the other side of the pond? Just the duck.
The Point Being:
No, they probably don’t really know what you do or how hard you work and if the truth be known they really
wouldn’t care if they did know because what you’re doing is not that important. Yes, we all want to believe
that what we do is significant because our sense of self worth is often based on a need for purpose. And
far too many of us define who we are by what we do for a living.
The Lesson to Learn:
Don’t take what you do all that seriously. Don’t let your pride get in the way of making the best decision.
Don’t value your job more then the people who employee you. In this scenario it would have been best for
the other girl to suck up her pride, keep working as some money is better then no money, and do
everything she could to find a another job before the one she had was completely gone.
The Brutal Truth:
No one values your job more then you. You can be replaced and the job can go away.