3 Rules to Keep Moving Forward: A Story by Dr. John C. Maxwell

By Coach Jeremy Hoy, MS, CSCS, SCCC, PES, TPI1, RPR1


Over the course of my coaching career, I have written many articles about goal setting for sports success.  I feel that it is one of the most important action items towards success in any field, just not sports.  It is important to know that when you set your goals, write out your steps, and act on them, you will be further ahead than most, and moving in the right direction.  


Unfortunately, as you attain your goals, not everyone in your circle of friends will want to celebrate with you.  Dr. John C. Maxwell, in his book “Your Roadmap For Success,” says that there are two types of people:  firefighters, and firelighters.  Firefighters are those people who want to put out the fire you have for your dream.  They have negative and poor attitudes about your success.  Firelighters are those you want to help you and are willing to do what they can to take your success to a higher level.  You will need to embrace those who are firelighters and surround yourself with positive thinkers and positive attitudes.


Dr. Maxwell gives a funny story to illustrate this point.


“A Canadian bird decided that it was too much trouble to fly south for the winter.  He said to himself, “I can brave a winter.  A lot of other animals do it.  It just can’t be that hard.”  So as all the other birds flocked away toward sunny South America, he stayed behind and waited for winter.


By the end of November, he was having serious second thoughts.  He had never been so cold, and he couldn’t find any food.  Finally, he broke down and realized that if he didn’t get out of there soon, he wasn’t going to make it.  So he started flying south all by himself.  After a while, it began to rain.  And before he knew it, the water was turning to ice on his wings.  Struggling, he recognized that he couldn’t fly any longer.  He knew he was about to die, so he glided down and made his last landing, crashing to the ground in a barnyard.


As he lay there stunned, a cow came by, stepped over him, and dropped a plop right on him.  He was totally disgusted.  Here I am, he thought, freezing to death.  I’m about to die.  I’m on my last breath, and then this!  What an awful way to go.


So then the bird held his breath and prepared himself to die.  But after about two minutes, he discovered a miracle was happening:  He was warming up.  The ice on his wings was melting.  His muscles were thawing out.  His blood was flowing again.  He realized that he was going to make it after all.  He got so excited and happy that he began to sing a glorious song.


At that moment, the farm’s old tomcat was lying in the hayloft in the barn, and he heard the bird singing.  He couldn’t believe it; he hadn’t heard anything like it for months, and he said to himself, “Is that a bird?  I thought they’d all gone south for the winter.”


He came out of the barn, and lo and behold, there was the bird.  The cat crossed over to where he was, pulled him gently out of the cow plop, cleaned him off—and ate him.”


Dr. Maxwell points out three morals to this story:


  1. Not everyone who drops a plop on you is your enemy
  2. Not everyone who takes a plop off you is your friend
  3. If somebody does drop a plop on you, keep your mouth shut


The same things can be true for you as you work towards (grind) and start to achieve your goals.  Some of the people you consider your friends will be the firefighters (fighting your success), while others will be the firelighters (supporting you).  Don’t let the firefighters get you off track in your journey to goal attainment.

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