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The Man and the Butterfly Cocoon

The Man and the Butterfly Cocoon
The Man and the Butterfly Cocoon

Why is it that we sometimes push things so much in life?  There are times we need to move projects forward, businesses forward, drive and motivate the team. However, this is different to pushing something to happen. We must understand when to push and when to allow. 


Let’s look at the story of the man and the butterfly cocoon as an example.

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole. Then it stopped, as if it couldn't go any further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily but it had a swollen body and shrivelled wings.

The man continued to watch it, expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge and expand enough to support the body, neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around. It was never able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand: the restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight.

Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Going through life with no obstacles could cripple us. We will not be as strong as we could have been, and we won’t be able to fly.


Being the victor and not the victim is highly important in enabling us to take control of our struggles and see the learnings. Enabling us to move forward being the better versions of ourselves.  Our struggles are where the biggest learnings lie. How can we learn to become stronger if we haven’t been through those struggles?  


Reframing the struggles and taking control of them will empower us. Tweak the lens enough to see it as a positive. What lesson do you need to learn from this problem, struggle or issue? How can it help you to learn and grow?


When we look at our business, there is a fine line between ‘allowing’ and ‘driving’ things forward. We do need to have goals, visions, passion and plans. We can’t just sit back and wait for things to happen, but we also need to allow life to happen without pushing against it too much. 


I have learnt that, sometimes, if I’m pushing too hard and the door doesn’t naturally open, maybe that particular door is not meant to open at that specific time. I have learnt to sit and reflect on it, and check the environment is right. I ask: what is the reason that I cannot move forward with this project or piece of work? It might be timing, it might not be the right project, it might just need tweaking, but there will be a reason for it. What is it that we need to learn here? Think of a past problem or struggle that you have had, what was the learning in it for you? Did you need to tweak or adapt something to enable it to work for you? Or did it naturally fade away? Did something better come along as a result?


Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like – Lao Tzu 


The man in the butterfly story was only trying to do his best for the butterfly. However, part of that butterfly’s journey was to struggle through that cocoon so it could fly through life. We must remember that, sometimes, our struggles can be opportunities for growth.


  • allowing
  • development
  • drive
  • empowerment
  • growth
  • lessons
  • lifelessons
  • mindset
  • motivate
  • overcoming
  • pushing
  • struggles
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