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What My Fat Chicken Taught Me About Smart Risk-Taking

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Fellow Riskologist,

Meet Bertha:


Bertha is a big girl—almost twice the size of her three sisters. She lives in my backyard where she and the others run around pecking, clucking, and scratching all day.

But why is she so big? Is it her breed? Is it her genetics? Yes, these things could play a role, but I have another theory.

I believe Bertha is so big because she’s such a Smart Riskologist.

Sometimes, I’ll sit on the back porch and watch the chickens roam around the yard as I work. For the most part, they stay huddled together, scratching the ground for worms in a relatively small space.

The whole yard is open, yet they stay within their tiny, self-constructed boundaries. That’s where they found the worms, so that must be where all the worms are. This is how I imagine the chickens think—not so different from humans, really.

But not Bertha. When Bertha has been scratching for too long without success, she doesn’t hesitate to cross the yard and start prospecting in a new patch of grass.

At first, the other chickens ignore her. Rather than follow, they just move into her old patch, scratching for the scraps she abandoned.

Meanwhile, Bertha toils in her new, uncharted territory. At first, it’s a lot of work for nothing. She scratches and scratches and scratches, but comes up with little to eat. The other chickens occasionally glance up to see her working fruitlessly.

But, eventually, Bertha strikes gold. At first, it’s one worm. Then two. Three. Pretty soon, Bertha has uncovered a patch of worms bigger than she could ever eat by herself.

The other chickens take notice and, suddenly, there’s a gold rush as the three hens dash across the yard to stake their own claims on the untold riches. But by the time they get there, Bertha has already had her fill. She’s happy to walk around and cluck to herself as the others fight for her scraps.

When Bertha gets hungry again, she’ll walk back into the patch to see if there’s anything left for her. Of course, there isn’t. The other ladies have cleared everything out.

But they don’t realize this. They frantically hunt and peck at a patch of dirt now barren of food. Again, they think: this is where the food was, so it must also be where the food is.

But Bertha knows better. She sees the others fighting for scraps and, rather than jump in the middle of it all and wear herself out for little gain, she packs up and moves to another patch. The process starts again.

Bertha is a pioneer. She’s a leader. A prospector. Most of all, she’s a very Smart Riskologist.

  • She sees opportunity where others see none. While all the other chickens put their heads down and fight over a tiny piece of grass, Bertha picks her head up and sees the whole world around her. She sees the fight she’s in, and chooses to move elsewhere. To Bertha, the world is abundant.
  • She’s not afraid of hard work. It’s tough being a pioneer chicken. The grass isn’t tilled, and you’re left all alone to do a lot of heavy pecking before you’ll find out if there are even any worms there for you to feast on. But she soldiers on regardless. She knows that even if she doesn’t find worms here, her strategy is strong, and she’ll find them elsewhere.
  • She moves on before profits disappear. When Bertha sees that all the chickens in the yard have caught on to her new spot and moved in on her turf, she doesn’t try to fight them off. That would take too much energy and she’s outnumbered. Instead, she just picks up and moves onto another spot, where she can enjoy another yet-to-be-discovered patch of worms all to herself.

For all these reasons, Bertha enjoys her status as Queen Chicken of the Yard. And if you want to be Queen/King Chicken of your own yard, I recommend taking a similar path.

It’s not the easiest way to live, but if a chicken can do it, so can you.

Yours in risk-taking,
Founder, Riskology.co

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What smart people are saying about this...

  1. mark phillips says:

    Great post.

    yeah, it can get hard being a pioneer. Just starting to make money online. At this point, I’m buying and selling stuff on ebay and amazon to make money to fund my other projects. Gets a little discouraging sometimes (like right now, while paypal takes more than a week to process my payment — arrghh!). But, i have every reason to believe I can succeed. I just have to keep pecking away.

    thanks for the motivational boost.

    yours in the struggle.

  2. Erin says:

    Best post ever! Insight into self by observing nature.

  3. Naomi says:

    I loved reading this. A cute story, but such a great metaphor too. The thing I love about Bertha is that she seems to believe that she can’t lose. Her confidence and faith keeps her going when it’s hard . She is pecking with a purpose!

  4. Bertha may also benefit from the inability to contemplate failure. ;)

    But yes, she’s a role model for all.

  5. Karen Goldner says:

    At the risk of being negative, I might argue that Bertha is actually increasing her probability of being next Sunday’s dinner, since you’re more likely to butcher a fat chicken than a skinny one. That is a great outcome for you, but significantly less good for her.

    Still, I get your metaphor, and up until the point of seeing that hatchet come out, I agree.

    Enjoy dinner.

  6. rocio says:

    I Like it! Too bad there isn’t a video of Bertha in Action :)!

  7. Todd Taylor says:

    Your most natural and meaningful post! Do you have a GoPro camera that you could harness on Bertha so that we/you might get an awesome visual of her in peak action?

  8. Zawadi Seas says:

    Brilliant story! Bertha plays such a strong character that teaches us valuable lessons. I can truly relate and actually see myself in her. :-) When things don’t seem like they will bear any fruit or people are grappling and competing for whatever…I tend to move on and seek pastures new. Opportunity is everywhere if only we dare to seek it out. My journey to succeed continues….Thanks Tyler T for your words of wisdom…many blessings!

  9. TLC says:

    Bertha is my new hero. I am going to print out her photo and hang it up on my white board for inspiration. This is awesome!

  10. Elise says:

    Enjoyable read! Funny how the other chickens don’t catch on.

  11. Jen says:

    I loved this article for the chicken aspect as well as the important reminder that we need to take smart risks to move ourselves forward in life.

Founded with love by Tyler Tervooren

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