Lessons learned from being a Chicken

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How did I become the man in the chicken suit?

career coaching, career advice, find work you love, career group, careershifters


It all started eighteen months ago.  My client Terri was struggling to find the motivation to study for a particularly dry module in her upcoming HR exams.

We’d explored some of the more conventional motivational techniques – understanding how the exams fitted into the big picture for her career, getting someone to hold her accountable, setting rewards for success.

No dice.  This stuff was truly dull.

Suddenly a flash of inspiration – a little wager. Another client had purchased a chicken suit as part of her campaign to lead a less ordinary life (don’t ask!).

The deal was set – if Terri studied for and passed her exam successfully, I would walk down a busy shopping street in broad daylight… in a chicken suit.

Miraculously, Terri’s attitude to study transformed. Suddenly she was whizzing through the modules like a superhero on a mission.

Exam day came and the inevitable result.  Passed with flying colours.  Terri even got a lapel badge to proudly tell the world she is a qualified HR practitioner!

Fast forward to April 2010

The venue: the bustling Santana Row bar scene, San Jose, California.

The time: Friday evening at Happy Hour.

A 6 foot five chicken emerges sheepishly from a side alley.

A group of men in suits stop drinking their beers mid sip to stare.

A passing couple do a double take.

A security guard looks a little nervous and considers reaching for his radio.

The world starts to warm up to the idea of a giant chicken in their midst.

career coaching, career change, find work you love, careershifters

Chicken in action

Suddenly people start approaching.  “Could I have a photo? – My dad would love it” asks a passer by.

Children are waving and smiling, coming up to say hello.

In the frozen yoghurt place, everyone loves the chicken.  The guy behind the counter has never seen anything like it.  The chicken has made his day – “this one’s on the house”!

Deep down I wasn’t looking forward to wearing the chicken suit.  In the end I could hardly take it off.  I loved every minute of being a chicken.

Lessons learned from being a chicken

What do I take away from dressing up in a giant chicken suit?

  • Sometimes finding motivation requires something a little beyond the ordinary.
  • Doing something different is fun and inspiring.
  • Wearing a chicken suit showed me that there is no need to be afraid.  I normally loathe being the centre of attention, yet with the suit it was great.  Now I can imagine wearing a chicken suit to stir myself on to greater things.
  • I have a renewed respect for anyone who has ever been a mascot – giant yellow chicken suits are hot and cumbersome!

Over to you

  • What do you do to be a little bit extraordinary?
  • How do you motivate yourself when the going gets tough?
  • Have you ever dressed up in public and what happened?

More Inspiration

Evelyn Lim on how to get creative and map your mind

Jeffrey Tan at Art of Great Things on Being who you want to become

Related posts:

  1. Viktor Frankl – Lessons from a Concentration Camp
  2. 4 Lessons from Innocent Smoothies
  3. Sir Ranulph Fiennes – 6 lessons from an Extraordinary Adventurer
  4. How to Think Big for your Life and Career – 5 lessons from Rudyard Kipling
  5. Find your Focus in 2010 – Oprah’s 4 secrets of focus


  1. Phil
    April 30, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    How to you find motivation and inspiration? How do you make life a little less ordinary? Have you ever dressed up in public and what happened?

  2. Catherine Morgan
    April 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    OMG, Phil! That might be your best post yet. I laughed the whole way through. We all need to drag out that kind of extra special motivation sometimes. A cold seafood platter and martinis sound downright tame after that!

  3. April 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Love it Phil!!! You made my Friday!
    This post makes me think not only of motivation but of what its like to know in your body the courage, the boldness and the fearlessness you felt while being the chicken. This body memory is something deep within you that’s more powerful than book knowledge and will serve you well when you tap into it in the future! Thank you for your fearlessness and for the great post! My only wish is that I was able to see you in person.
    .-= Carly´s last blog ..Shedding Layers of the False Self =-.

  4. April 30, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Bravo for your courage – I used to frequent Santana Row (I know the street by heart) when I would come to SJ for those business trips and knowing the posh crowd that hangs around that place and on a Friday evening, I know you must have been intimidated. Next time I see a guy wearing a chicken suit I swear I am going over and telling him he is one brave man (and ask if he has a blog named LessOrdinaryLiving because I am a fan ;) )!

  5. May 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    Talk about standing out in a crowd! The chicken who wasn’t a chicken. Congrats for doing that for your client and yourself. I also love to wear yellow! It’s my fav color. Bold and cheery.

    I like to stand out by standing up for what I believe. It’s hard at the beginning but becomes easier over time until you can’t imagine not standing up!

    Enjoy your weekend …

    .-= Giulietta the Muse´s last blog ..What makes you get up in the morning? =-.

  6. May 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Extraordinary? With my grandchildren is when my “chicken” comes alive. I’ll do crazy things with them. We went to a water park a month ago because it was Hot Hot Hot in AZ while they were visiting. I went on this insane water slide…tunnel, dark, upside down, couldn’t wear my sun glasses and was told not to let my arse below the bottom of the double inner tube. At 56 before being pushed down the slide…my fleeting thought was…this is insane!
    My grandson is 13 and I’d like to thing this kind of stuff will end soon but little Henri is only one so I believe I have another 10 years before I’m out of the woods.

    Mean while I’ll stay lean and limber and expect crazy, spontanaity to be a main stay.
    .-= Tess The Bold LIfe´s last blog ..The Bold Life: 50 Shots of Happiness =-.

  7. May 2, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Phil, wonderful, thank you so much! Your chicken courage is very funny and very inspiring, and I also enjoy the appreciative comments.

    But when you ask about dressing in public, I have to ask you to visit my latest blog post – about the samurai horseback archery in my rural community. Please enjoy a look at tell me what you think.

    All your post pointers are great, and I especially like, “doing something different is fun and inspiring.” This is such a simple yet profound truth. Thank you again from the mountains in Japan – Catrien Ross.
    .-= Catrien Ross´s last blog ..Catrien Ross on Hitting Your Target at Full Gallop – Personal Growth Inspiration from Samurai Horse Archers at Mount Fuji =-.

  8. May 3, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I guess being a chicken has its privileges. Imagine what kind of fame you’d get if you were Bugs Bunny.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..Lessons Learned from Steve Pavlina =-.

  9. May 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,
    I love your humor. While I have never tried a chicken suit, I take great pleasure in approaching strangers I have seemingly nothing in common with and striking up a conversation. It is a great lesson in humanity and way to realize how everybody is truly interesting. I have encouraged shy people to try this, and at first it is terrifying and then liberating. There is an immense feeling of freedom that comes with conquering fear or risking embarrassment. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= rob white´s last blog ..Your ‘Recovery Act Program’ =-.

  10. Phil
    May 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    @ Catherine – glad it made you chuckle, it certainly made my day. It is fun to do something new and different every now and again – freshens life up.

    @Carly – yes, not many people channel their inner chicken, however for me it really does help to remember that feeling when I need to be brave. Frankly I should go to all my meetings in this “suit”.

    @Farnoosh – i hadn’t been to Santana Row before, but it is actually a very friendly place for a giant chicken. Please be nice to everyone in costume – they are pretty brave people! Thanks for the feedback and kudos too…

    @Giulietta – Standing up for what you believe in is a bold way to stand out. Keep agitating and promoting positivity and big thinking

    @Tess – loving the waterpark antics. That sounds like a hugely fun way to enjoy life. I reckon you’ll stay young at heart for ever if you keep up that attitude. Life is precious and we should make the most of every minute – and you clearly do.

    @Catrien – samurai horseback archery. Ok – now added to my list of ambitions for life. I’m super excited by this idea. Thanks for sharing the inspiration and for reading.

    @JD – Bugs Bunny? Another future challenge perhaps? Have you ever dressed up as a giant rabbit?

    @Rob – thanks for sharing. Strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet (or at least so someone wise claimed). It is certainly nice to make a human connection that way and try brightening our day and someone else’s too. I like that you talk about overcoming embarrassment – frankly the less we find embarrassing the better – it helps us to be authentic and act naturally and confidently.

  11. May 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    That was a really cool experience!! We can learn from everything, specially on doing different things we print on ourselves the biggest truths about life. You are a confident and cool person.

  12. Phil
    May 5, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    @Tania – thanks for your comment and welcome to Less Ordinary. I agree that we can only really learn new things if we do something different. I encourage every reader to try doing something a little different today and to see what happens. Good luck!

  13. May 5, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Haha Phil, do you ever watch family guy? Reminds me of the chicken episodes where Peter fights the chicken…you look great in the suit…I may have to give it a go too!

    I was going to dress in my Borat swimsuit to raise money. Haven’t done that yet, think I need to work on my 6pack before I do!
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..Have You Learned Your Lessons Yet? =-.

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