Coaching Journal


John Owens


In summer I put out hummingbird feeders with suction cups on my bay window. This year we were blessed with an abundance of these creatures’ visits. What a marvel to watch them, hovering motionlessly, with their glorious cloak of iridescent feathers shimmering in the afternoon sun.

Such courageous feats hummingbirds commit to! With a body weighing only a few grams, the hummingbird must eat high energy food constantly to survive. A day or two of fasting should spell certain death. Yet these critters fly across the Gulf of Mexico yearly to their wintering grounds without stopping for food or rest. Many birds must perish on the journey. Another courageous thing I have seen hummingbirds do is hover face to face with my two young (and astonished!) cats, bird eyeing cats curiously before buzzing away. I’ve witnessed this frequently, with predator and prey honoring one another from six inches away (through glass) in highly-charged silence.

My Mission is to create abundant compassion by honoring my connection with all beings. It was with compassion and concern this summer when I came home for lunch and found a hummingbird in my garage. She was flying around the ceiling looking fruitlessly for the exit. The sixteen-foot-wide door was open; still it just could not find the way out. Concerned, I left the garage door open, and hoped it would escape by evening.

Hummingbird still had not exited the garage by evening. I put out some jelly, hoping it could get nourishment. Each time I saw the poor creature, it was flying around randomly at ceiling height, oblivious to the open door beckoning it to freedom. I knew that if I tried catching it with a net, it would probably be injured and die, so its best chance lay in my trusting it could find an exit by itself.

Next morning, the hummingbird was still stuck. I determinedly opened the garage door and the windows, propped open the service door, and slightly shut the overhead door so the bird could see more opening for escape at the top of the door. Something worked: at noon I checked; Hummingbird was gone (and not laying dead on the floor!). I rejoiced my tiny friend had at last found freedom. It found its own way, perhaps with the invitation from me.

Later, I recounted the story with some friends. It was then it occurred to me: Hummingbird was no different than us. How many times have I searched exhaustively and fruitlessly for a solution? Then a coach or friend would give me a little nudge by pointing out a direction, and I’d find the door that had been gaping open in front of me all the while. Occasionally we all need a new perspective to show us the door. I was grateful to have been an ally to hummingbird. I am grateful to serve my clients similarly. And I am grateful that you, too, are there when I bumble about blindly.

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