Don’t Send Your Ducks to Eagle School

Another concept introduced to us by Jim Rohn is “Don’t send your ducks to eagle school.”

“Good people are found, not changed. They can change themselves, but you can’t change them. If you want good people, you have to find them. If you want motivated people, you have to find them, not motivate them. (…) Don’t waste your time trying to turn ducks into eagles. Hire people who already have the motivation and drive to be eagles and then just let them soar.”1

As we discussed before, the capoeira group can be considered a leadership and personal development factory that people join voluntarily and stay for various reasons.

Two classical mistakes in leadership (and among capoeira teachers) are:

  • Sending “ducks” (less talented or unprepared individuals) to “Eagle School” prematurely, expecting them to take on roles or responsibilities they are not ready for.
  • Sending “eagles” (talented and confident individuals) to “Duck School,” holding them back from their potential by assigning them roles that do not align with their current capabilities.

It’s not about “eagles” being better than “ducks.” It’s about the importance of recognizing individual potential and nurturing it without imposing unrealistic expectations. Be careful against manipulating students to fit a certain agenda.

“Let the ducks be ducks, and let the eagles be eagles. We don’t know who is who. But we can create the right kind of atmosphere [for everyone to soar].”

Mestre Cueca

Offer independence at the right time. Take them over the line and allow students to spread their wings and gain independence: it is always better to give independence one day earlier than one day later.

“When a bird in the nest starts to stretch its wings, it’s because it wants to fly.”

Mestre Suassuna

Don’t push them to fit the agenda just because you need a helper, but if you feel that someone is starting to stretch their wings – offer them a chance. Let the advanced students do their thing.

“It’s hard to grow beyond something if you won’t let go of it.”

James Clear


1. The full text of this short article by Jim Rohn can be found here.