A young boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he took care of it.
The boy got a large jar from his mother, and inside the jar he put some plants to eat, and a stick to climb on for his new caterpillar. Everyday he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.
One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother to come take a look. The mother recognized that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. She explained to the boy how the caterpillar was preparing to go through a metamorphosis, which would lead to it becoming a butterfly.
The boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched everyday, waiting for the process to happen, hoping a butterfly would emerge. Then, one day it happened. A small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly began to struggle to come out.
At first, the boy was excited, but soon became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out. It looked like it couldn’t break free… it looked desperate… it looked like it wasn’t making any progress.
The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors and then carefully walked back. He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!
As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised and a bit confused. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would flourish.
But neither happened. The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly…
As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was supposed to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never fly. The boy’s good intentions permanently hindered the butterfly.
As you go through life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly. Embrace the struggles as learning opportunities. As leaders and mentors, allow the struggle to happen so your students can fly on their own. They deserve it.
October 27, 2022