This article was published on June 10, 2010

Chasing Pigeons vs. Catching Pigeons

Chasing Pigeons vs. Catching Pigeons
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

When I was a kid I used to keep pigeons. That has taught me a lot about them. As you might know pigeons aren’t too smart. They eat, fly and breed and that’s about it.

Oh, they are great in navigating so you can drop them off 500km from their home base and they will fly straight back to it. Apart from that, they don’t achieve much. Reason why they are so abundant is because they breed so often.

Pigeons are the worst nest builders of all birds. Their nests are often so bad that their eggs will fall right through the cracks when they lay them. To compensate for that they just, well, breed a lot.

Still, catching a pigeon seems hard. Ever seen a kid chase pigeons? They never seem to catch them. Considering the mental capabilities of pigeons this seems odd. They aren’t too smart so why can’t you catch them?

The reason is that kids don’t actually want to catch these pigeons. They might want to scare them and would even love to hold one but they aren’t prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to actually catch one.

I regularly catch a pigeon. It isn’t that hard once you know the trick. Want me to teach you the trick to catching pigeons? This is the trick: It is easy to catch a pigeon if you REALLY want to.

Yes, that is how easy it is. If you want to catch a pigeon and think about it for a while it becomes fairly easy to do. If you want to catch a pigeon, and don’t mind what happens to the pigeon during the act of catching it, it becomes even easier. The pigeon might die, lose some feathers or break a wing, but you will catch it.

Also, if you don’t mind what happens to you, or how it makes you look, than catching it becomes even easier.

Once I sat on a terrace full of people. It was a quiet sunday morning and most people were reading their newspaper or just staring in the distance. A bunch of pigeons walked around under the tables looking for crumbles. I was looking at the pigeons when a friend said ‘Can you catch one for me’. I waited until one of them was next to my chair and then I grabbed it. What happened next was awful: I got hold of its tail and in a panic the poor pigeon lunged forward and I ripped half of its tail off. I could have still managed to grab it but that would’ve meant really hurting it and in that split second I hesitated and let go. I didn’t really want to catch the pigeon. Not if it meant hurting it.

There were feathers all over the terrace as a flurry of pigeons all flew away in a panic.
One of them flying slightly less straight than all the others.

(Don’t worry, those feathers grow back within a week. Or maybe two.)

Catching pigeons and starting companies are pretty similar in some aspects. You too can start a company and make it successful. But it does mean you have to go all in. A lot of people say they want to start their own company. But if you dig deeper they don’t really mean it. They don’t want to make less money than they currently do, are worried about the risk and aren’t sure whether they have enough energy and persistence to pull it all off.

You shouldn’t really care if it means you will lose money, sleep, time and friendships because you will.
You should be able to sacrifice things and REALLY want to reach those goals you’ve set.

If you don’t you will just be chasing pigeons.

P.S. You don’t want to swallow them alive either:

Okay, the REAL secret to catching pigeons is to give them what they want. You aren’t too sexually attractive to a pigeon so no point in seducing it that way. But give it food and it will overcome its fear for you. Sit down on a bench and throw down some bread crumbs around your feet. Pretty soon you will have a few pigeons running around trying to get to the bread. Hold your hand out and as soon as a pigeon comes close to your feet just grab it by pushing it down.

The female pigeons are easier to catch because they are braver than the males. How to spot a female pigeon? I will tell you in my next post titled. It will be about pigeons, sex and investing.

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