"Get Scrappy!" Blog

A “Shout Out” to the Caterpillar

Posted February 27, 2013 by Terri Sjodin in Archive, Small Message Big Impact, Training and Development

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~Maya Angelou

Part of my work as a speaker and trainer, is in delivering small group workshops (within a corporation for their sales professionals) on how to give more effective presentations.

You might find this surprising, but people are not always excited to take this class, and I get it. I believe they are very pleased with the end result, but it comes with varying degrees of reluctance and resistance.

Simply put, when you are coaching adults and you ask them to go through some sort of transformative drill that will teach them how to build and deliver more polished presentations, it comes with a certain amount of pushback from the participants. Sure, ideologically we all know that training, practice and developing our skills helps to make us better professionals. However, when we actually have to engage in the training activities none of us enjoy doing it. So when I start to hear the grumble (which is perfectly normal by the way) just before we execute the drill, I share an analogy about the plight of the caterpillar with my students…

Imagine for a moment that you’re the caterpillar. Everybody is encouraging you to be the butterfly, but maybe you’re comfortable, content, and not feeling the need to do anything “major.” (I have felt like that sometimes too.)

Why take the risk of throwing yourself off a branch, to hang by string upside down for 3-4 weeks. Then, go thru some kind of unknown and probably painful metamorphosis, for what? To potentially emerge as a butterfly? What if you don’t even want to be a butterfly?

Maybe others have even praised you for being the best caterpillar ever.

I imagine that at some point, the caterpillar had to seriously think about this…Maybe even thought, “Nope I’m not doing it! Butterflies aren’t that cool. Caterpillars should all be happy being as they are.”

Maybe some of his caterpillar friends agreed? (Not to mention you could be risking death…. How many caterpillars make it thru the journey?)

Or maybe he had friends who said, “Come on, let’s just do it…it will be an adventure.”

And somewhere, in all of the thinking, doubt, fear and questions, he realizes he does want to be a butterfly, he was just scared and felt a bit intimidated.

So, in that moment of choice, he takes the leap to “make things happen” and goes for it. This is the brave part. The commitment to complete the journey and come out the other side is the true part of this story that should be “praised” or noted publicly. But it’s not. All you ever really hear about is “how beautiful the butterfly is,” which is true.

So, what’s the point?

Every caterpillar has the potential to be a butterfly if it chooses. Each of us has the potential to be or do or have whatever we choose.

That said, just like the caterpillar, we eventually have to decide what we really want and push past our own fears to stay in the comfort of where we are, and choose to “go for it”, then take all the risk, endure the pain and make it happen.

So, if you or someone you know is about to take a leap and try something new, just remember, change can be difficult, but that’s okay. And as the saying goes, “A great beginning is sometimes at the point of what you thought would be the end of everything.” (Dodinsky)


“The caterpillar does all of the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” -George Carlin

For more information about Terri Sjodin or Sjodin Communications, please visit: www.sjodincommunications.com

Have you read Small Message, Big Impact? If not, then order your copy today by visiting: https://www.sjodincommunications.com/pilot.asp?pg=whatsnew (also available as an audiobook)

Share this Post


Leave a Comment

Skip to content