Once upon a time there were two owls, Hoot and Swoop. Hoot and Swoop were normal owls. Two eyes. A beak. Feathers. Two wings. But they were afraid to take off and fly. They wanted to soar above the treetops and glide among the clouds. But they worried they didn’t know enough to fly safely. So most of their days were spent trotting along the ground, observing other owls with more experience.
They watched their friends spread their wings. Traced the exact patterns of their feathers through the air. They watched them hop from branches or lift off from the dirt, and paid careful attention to the position of their heads, backs, and tails. And sometimes they even asked the other owls for tips or advice, or just for their thoughts. And the other owls always told them the same, “I just kick off hard, flap my wings, soon I’m in the air.”
But no matter how simple the explanation, Hoot and Swoop always pondered the hidden meaning in their words, believing there must be some trick, some key to flight mastery, something more to learn before they could take off and fly.
One day while Hoot and Swoop trotted along, reading a book on aerodynamics, a hungry tiger leapt out from behind a bush. Afraid for their lives, Hoot and Swoop ran away as fast as their little bird legs would carry them. But try as they might, they couldn’t escape the vicious predator who was bigger and faster in every way. The tiger gained ground and the two owls needed to fly right now. They knew what to do and how to do it, but there were still so many unknowns.
In an instant, the tiger was upon them and they had to make a choice. Wanting to live, Swoop spread his wings, kicked off hard, and flapped up, and into the air. He escaped just in time. Hoot was next. Wanting to escape, he spread his wings, prepared to flap. Positioned his legs and..
.. the tiger swallowed him whole.
When Swoop took off, it wasn’t graceful. It wasn’t perfect flight. But it WAS the first time he got real experience, and it was just enough to escape the hungry tiger’s jaws and make off with his life. Hoot, having never learned quite enough, waited too long, and for that he missed his chance and paid the ultimate price.
Swoop was sad his friend never got off the ground and vowed from that day forward to never get stuck learning again. From that day forward he’d always take action first and learn ..
.. on the fly.