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The story of the BB-bird

I don’t know when the BB-bird came into my life, but it was early – a bright, yellow canary with an incredibly friendly demeanour. His name, pronounced “bee-bee”, was related directly to my ability to say things around the age of 10 months. It entered my vocabulary about the same time as “mama”, “dada”, “bye-bye”, “night-night”, and “ford”.

BB-bird had a cage, but using the cage was at the bird’s discretion, not ours; the door was always open. BB sat on my crib, let me poke him with sticks, and even flew around outside during the summer months. But BB always returned and was an integral part of our family.

One day we returned from a short winter holiday and BB was suddenly very stand-offish. He wouldn’t sing, wouldn’t play with me, and was generally apathetic (I was about three at the time, but recognized apathy nonetheless). When spring came, I opened a window and the BB-bird flew away, never to be seen again.

A few years later, my mother confessed that the original BB-bird had died that winter weekend and she had discreetly replaced him with another bird without telling me. She said it was the only time she ever lied to me – and I believe her.

She learned a lesson and I learned a lesson – several, in fact. And now, 55 years later, the BB-bird still affects my decision-making process. Allow me to share some thoughts with you.

Lessons learned from the BB-bird

First, you can sugar-coat the truth, but you can never hide it. Truth always comes out. In my case, I was confused and upset that my friend the BB-bird no longer liked me. This was far more painful than learning the concept of death. I was genuinely relieved when my mom confessed the truth behind the BB-bird’s sudden personality change.

Today, when clients leave us unexpectedly or old friends “go off the radar” in a calculated manner, I want to know why. I want an explanation – and hopefully I shouldn’t have to ask.

This leads to my second epiphany…

There is a difference between “difficult” and “unpleasant” decisions. In truth, there are relatively few “difficult” decisions here in life – mostly, we procrastinate to avoid making the “unpleasant” decisions – or look for ways to avoid confrontation entirely (e.g. replacing a dead canary to avoid upsetting the baby).

Thanks to the BB-bird, I rarely hesitate when making unpleasant decisions. It’s not that I’m cold-hearted, I just don’t see the upside in prolonging pain. I also rip off band-aids really fast. And I always explain the reasons behind my decisions and subsequent actions.

Do you have a BB-bird in your life? You probably do. So, take a moment and see what lessons you learned.

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