The Struggle of the Butterfly

Contributed by Tami Matheny - Founding Partner of Success for Teams, Owner at Refuse2Lose Coaching and author of "The Confident Athlete"

New life and new beginnings are synonymous with Spring time.  One of my favorite metaphors for athletes as we spring forward, is the “Struggle of the Butterfly.

One day a man found a cocoon lying in the grass and he picked it up. When he examined it, he noticed a tiny hole forming on one of the sides and as he looked inside, he could see the soon-to-be butterfly. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.  The man thought the hole looked too small and that the butterfly was stuck.

So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took out his penknife and enlarged the hole. The butterfly emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, malformed wings.

He kept waiting for the wings to develop so that the butterfly would be able to fly.  But that didn’t happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.

Despite the kind act of the man, he didn’t understand that the struggle required by the butterfly to get itself through the small opening was nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into it's wings to prepare itself to fly once it was out of the cocoon.  The butterfly needs this struggle for healthy development.  Robbed of this struggle, the butterfly is crippled.

Moral of the story for parents:  When parents want to help and protect their children, they can inadvertently hinder and even stunt their offspring's emotional and athletic development.

Moral for the story for athletes:  Struggles will develop your strengths. Without struggles it’s hard to grow and get stronger.  Frustration, adversity and challenges are necessary in order for you to become the best athlete you can be. You don't learn to get tough without going through tough times. Start embracing the struggle!