Duck or eagle

Yesterday, I met Ahmad and Tariq for lunch…

Ahmad is the CFO of a multinational company while Tariq works in the same company as a senior accountant.

Both moved from Riyadh to Islamabad during the last three years. Ahmad planned the lunch meeting when he got the news about my recent move to Islamabad.

I was curious to know about their journey from where they were, when we last met 5 years ago, to where they are in their lives now. I was even more curious to know what caused them to be so far apart in their achievements in professional life, especially when they started their career together, at the same level, in the same organization and with the same job descriptions.

To reply to my curiosity, smilingly, Ahmad said, “I never quack like a duck…”


His reply took me to the past at the time when, as the head of the Finance department, I hired two fresh graduates. Ahmad and Tariq were appointed as accountants and things started moving on. I noticed that Ahmed would always stand up, take responsibility and deliver what was expected from him. Whenever he fell short on anything, he would always hold himself accountable and rectify things by taking full ownership. Tariq, on the other hand, would usually find excuses for everything that he fell short on.

I recalled the day when we had to present the Annual report to the chairman at 9 am and neither Ahmad nor Tariq could make it to the office on time, due to being stuck in heavy traffic on one of the busiest roads in Riyadh (people who live or have ever lived in Riyadh can relate to this…).

When inquired about it, Tariq’s attitude was outrageous about those on the road, the road diversions, the ill-mannered drivers……… what else; and what not… quack… quack… and quack…!

Ahmad, on the other hand, came to my office and, very responsibly, said that he must have planned his commute better by leaving his home earlier… taking keen interest, he inquired about the meeting, and pro-actively took note of Chairman’s observations. Later in the day I saw him actively moving around and engaging other staff, whenever required, to complete the urgent and important requirements. Before the close of business that day, I was able to finalize the response to all observations and submit everything to the Chairman’s office… at the end of the day, it was a job well done.

Guess what happened next… Annual appraisals were due in two weeks and Ahmad got his very first promotion.


The food was served, and Tariq was complaining about how poorly the waiter served food and that the other restaurant next door serves better food etc….

Ahmad was smiling and enjoying every bite that he took… soaring as usual like an eagle.


Let’s stop here for a moment… and ask ourselves a question…

Am I an eagle… or a duck…?

Do I want to soar like an eagle…. Or quack like a duck…?

The answer to this question will determine the future quality of your life, and the quality of actions that you take towards that…

This article first appeared at

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