Vail Valley: Don’t be like a trained flea |

Vail Valley: Don’t be like a trained flea

One of the greatest experiences and blessings in my life so far has been the occasions I have had the privilege of spending one-on-one time with Zig Ziglar.

One of my favorite Zig Ziglar stories is the story of the fleas and the flea trainers because it is so relevant to generations past, what is happening today, and the tomorrows of our lives, in the Vail Valley or anywhere else.

Most of us don’t think fleas have the capacity to be trained, but they do. Flea trainers know that if they place fleas in a jar and leave the top on, the fleas will continue to try and jump out of the jar, continually hitting the lid. They will do this over and over again until finally they stop jumping as high as the lid. Eventually the flea trainer can remove the lid from the jar and the fleas will remain in the jar and never again jump as high as their potential.

The minute we allow others to establish our dreams and goals is the moment we become like those fleas. We will only jump as high as someone else dictates. Business owners and managers would do well not to behave like flea trainers and encourage their staff to jump and reach as high as they possibly can.

“You can do anything in this world that you want – however there is someone out there that can make you believe that you cannot, and that person is you.”

Doug Firebaugh shared this quote with me a couple of weeks ago and it is so fitting for the story of the flea and the flea trainers. As individuals responsible for our own productivity and growth we need never be bound by written, verbal, or metaphoric lids on jars. As leaders, we need to consistently provide hope and encouragement to those in our care so they can jump higher and deliver more than either ever expected.

Henry Ford said it this way: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”

Think big, act big, and you can go big. Dream big dreams, set goals that stretch you, and work hard toward achieving your own personal and professional objectives. The only one standing in your way is you.

Thanks again for all the amazing feedback. Let me know how big you plan to go and how high you plan to jump at and make it a better than good week!

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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