Duck or Eagle? The Choice of a New York Cab Driver to Rise Above

How much control do you think you truly have over your destiny? 

Have you considered that your daily decisions may be the key to unlocking a future filled with success and fulfillment?

Let me share a fascinating story, a universal lesson you can use to enhance your lives significantly. 

At the heart of reaching your highest potential is fully embracing and making the best of your current reality. 

Instead of wishing to be elsewhere, one can thrive by adopting a single-minded focus on the job, which involves being present in the moment. By doing so, one’s output can significantly improve as one’s focus sharpens and one’s energy becomes more directed.

Embracing the “game” one has chosen, finding joy and engagement in the process transforms work from a burdensome duty into a source of fun and fulfillment. Moreover, cultivating a positive attitude and a sunny disposition about life can dramatically enhance one’s perspective, reducing complaints and fostering a more optimistic outlook.

By embracing these positive shifts, individuals can stop enduring their circumstances and start thriving, turning everyday challenges into opportunities for growth and satisfaction.

In the words of James Allen, “Some people are anxious to improve their circumstances but are completely unwilling to improve themselves, and therefore they remain bound.” 

Today, I want to tell you an interesting and inspiring story by Arthur Harvey McKay about a cab driver in New York City who had learned to soar like an eagle in a profession entire of complaining and whining ducks. 

Harvey was waiting in line for a ride at the airport when a car pulled up. The first thing Harvey noticed was that this taxi was polished to a bright shine. The driver, smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey.

He handed Harvey a laminated card and said, “Hello, my name is Wally. I’m your taxi driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk, I’d like you to please take a moment to read my mission statement.” Taken aback, Harvey read the card, which stated:

Wally’s Mission Statement: I aim to get my customers to their destinations quickly, safely, and cheaply in a friendly environment.

This blew Harvey away, especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside—spotlessly clean. As he slipped behind the wheel, Wally asked, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a regular thermos and one that is decaf.”

Harvey joked, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.”

Wally smiled and replied, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water, and orange juice.”

Amazed by now, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke, thank you.”

Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have the Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today.”

As they were pulling away, Wally also handed Harvey another laminated card. “These are the stations I get in the car and the music they play if you want to listen to the radio.”

As if all of this weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey he had the air conditioning on in the car and asked him if the temperature was comfortable. He then advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day and gave him an option that he’d be happy to either chat with him, telling him about some of the sights along the way, or, if Harvey preferred, he could be quiet and leave him to his thoughts.

Astonished by now, Harvey asked him, “Tell me, Wally, have you always served customers like this?”

Wally smiled into the rearview mirror. “No, no, no. Only sometimes. It’s only been the last two years. For my first five, I spent most of my time complaining like all the other cabbies in New York City do. And then I heard this personal growth guru, Dr. Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He’d just written a new book called ‘You’ll See It When You Believe It.’ 

Dr. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said to stop complaining and differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck; be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd. What he said hit me right between the eyes. Dr. Dyer was talking about me. I was the one who was always quacking and complaining. 

That was a transformational moment for me, and I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were filthy, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were always unhappy. So, I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time, and when my customers responded well, I did more.”

“I take it that has paid off well for you,” Harvey said.

“It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year, I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me at the cab stand today, Sir. I don’t sit there anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it, and I take a piece of the action.”

Harvey concluded this entire experience by writing, “Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab.”

He also said that he’s probably told the story about Wally’s excellence to more than 50 cab drivers across different parts of the United States over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. He’d usually follow up with them, giving them a call later on whenever he was in the city. He observed that these other drivers continued to quack like ducks and gave him solid reasons why they couldn’t do any of the stuff that Wally did.

Wally, the cab driver, had made a different choice he had decided to make a different choice.

As Tony Robbins says, “Decisions change destinies.” 

Wally had decided to stop quacking like a duck and start soaring like an Eagle. Each day, you have a choice: get up in the morning expecting a bad day or a wonderful, beautiful day full of opportunities. 

The old saying, “Smile, and the world will smile with you,” can be true if you decide to make the best of the day ahead each morning. 

Remember, ducks, quack, and eagles soar. 

Love, Jim