4 Lessons Peacocks Can Teach Us About Advocacy

All it takes is one look around my bedroom to figure out that I have a bit of an obsession with peacocks. My love affair with these mesmerizing creatures began back in the summer of 2008. I must admit I was nowhere near an actual peacock at the time. As it happens, I was at a leadership program filling out a quiz about which animal matches my leadership style. My result was – you guessed it – a peacock!

I know, I know. Deciding I needed to own peacock-themed everything all because of one random leadership quiz might be overkill. Can you blame me, though? They are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful animals on the planet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking back to the root of my passion for peacocks. It might have started with a silly quiz that I barely even remember, but there are definitely some useful lessons in leadership and advocacy that peacocks can teach us.

Make Your Presence Known

Peacocks accomplish this is more ways than one. Of course, you can’t miss their feathers. But have you ever heard peacocks making noise? They have a loud, distinctive sound, which is exactly what the disability community needs to enact real social change. No, I’m not suggesting that advocates should squawk like peacocks to be heard. That being said, disability activists are silenced far too often when advocating for our rights. An effective advocate can channel their inner peacock by letting people know they are unmistakably present.

Show Your True Colors

I’m a firm believer in not judging people by their outward appearance, and I’m aware that using physical characteristics of peacocks as analogies for advocacy could be perceived as superficial. However, when I talk about true colors, I don’t just mean on the outside. Something I’m working on this year is self-acceptance, and part of that is being myself no matter what. It’s hard to do this all the time, but I think the best advocates are the ones who don’t shy away from letting people know exactly who they are – inside and out.

Be Bold

One of the reasons I love peacocks so much is that nothing about them is subtle. They command attention, and I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say they know it. Being able to captivate someone is most definitely an art form and peacocks are lucky it comes naturally to them. I, on the other hand, have had to figure out the best techniques for keeping someone engaged in a room full of people. Granted, sitting in a big old wheelchair is kind of like having peacock feathers because it makes me pretty noticeable. But, when it comes to advocacy, there are so many amazing power players, and lots of them are making a difference for the disability community because they’re not afraid to be bold. They stand out among their surroundings…and even among other peacocks.

Go For It

I didn’t actually learn this one from a peacock, but because of one. In 2011, while on a trip to Israel, my cousin Heather and I spotted a peacock roaming around a kibbutz (a communal settlement). I had seen peacocks in exhibits before, but never just existing in nature like they should be. Obviously, I was ridiculously excited, so my cousin and I took off after the peacock in an attempt to get a picture. We should have let the poor animal be, because we didn’t get to it in time for a clear photo. Heather tried her best to get close enough, but everything we got was blurry. There was a silver lining, though, because while we didn’t get a good picture, Heather ran into a resident of the kibbutz who ended up teaching us how to say “peacock” in Hebrew. (Tah-vas, in case you were wondering.) There’s absolutely a lesson to be found in this experience. When you want to accomplish something, go for it! Even if you don’t exactly meet your goal, you’ll still get something beneficial to take away from the experience.

And who knows? What you learn just might help bring out your inner peacock advocate.

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Comments

  1. I’m picturing you taking off after the peacock to try to capture a photo and scaring it away. lol You extrapolated the peacock into a great series of points here. I read about ya on The Missing Niche today and thought I’d come say hello!

  2. Wonderful article! I sometimes find it challenging advocating for yourself or for someone (in my case my children), I fear I might offend the person with whom I am speaking. Your article has given me encouragement. Thanks!

  3. Aw I love this! On the street I used to live on, there was a wild peacock that roamed a few of my neighbor’s backyards and they all took care of it. My boyfriend actually worked on one of the houses and got to get up close to it and take some gorgeous pictures.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know what a peacock was (English is my second language), but now I do, and I appreciate teh lessons you learned from them.

  5. I once took a test that likened my personality to the habits of the beaver. When I think about it, beavers can teach us many lessons on advocacy. They are hard workers who refuse to give up until the trees are torn down and their dam is built.

  6. The fact that you can find so much inspiration in a peacock shows how inspiration you are yourself. I’m so happy to hear of your self-acceptance project this year. You’re a wonderful person Emily! Please feel encouraged to be you, anytime I find myself on your blog I always leave feeling lifted up 🙂

    1. Ashley, your comment put a much needed smile on my face. How lovely of you (pun wasn’t initially intended but then I remembered your blog’s name!) I cannot thank you enough for stopping by to read 🙂

  7. Oh I love this! For one, I love peacocks but I also love how you interpreted the meanings! This is perfect. I am stopping by from the SITS Girls Comment Love Tribe. Have a great week!

    Emily

  8. Hi Emily! I am stopping by to say hi from the SITS list…we really enjoy peacocks too! We see them roaming around in a neighborhood near our home during this time a year. I agree that there is nothing subtle about them…they stop traffic! My 2 year old son sees them and imitates how they walk and really enjoys watching them. Nice to “meet” you! Have a wonderful day!

  9. Excellent article Emily. As I said to you on Twitter, I love you blog.

    The most important point that you make in my opinion is to make your presence known. I believe that it’s critical to being a successful advocate.

    How do you suggest introverts make their presence known?

  10. Great post. I love purple, I see quite a bit of it on your blog. Good for you for being an advocate for disability, I hope I can learn from you to do the same for infertility.

  11. Great message, Emily! On a side note, our zoo in Denver had several peacocks roaming around. You are right, their noise is loud and powerful! Plus, have you ever seen a baby peacock? Cutest. Thing. Ever. Stopping by from SITS!

  12. You know, we raised peacocks when I was growing up. My grandpa did too. They really are beautiful. They are also extremely friendly and loyal to those who raise them . The little ones that grew up on our farm from hatching would follow us around as though we were their parents as well. One was so close to my little sister that when she was being chased by a chicken it fought off the chicken for her. 🙂
    You are right about them being advocates… all of your points are dead on. Their cries sound so similar to someone crying for help! We had neighbors once that thought someone was hurt on our farm… LOL. They are very commanding birds.
    I know you have seen the blue peacocks, obviously from your image of one, but have you gotten a close up look at the albino, or white peacocks? We had both blue and white on our farm… they are so amazing.

    I was reading your about me… how cool that you were on Sesame Street! Have a great day! #SITSblogging

  13. There are many peacocks that live in the large city park across the street from my apartment and they often come to our side and peck at the front door of our building. They make such a bold sound and I love them all. In the late Summer we love to wander the acreage of the park and see the peahens with their babes in the tall grasses.

    I will think of you now when I see them! Lovely post.

    #SITSblogging

  14. Lovely post. I love peacocks as well. My great grandfather used to have peacock for pets. I like the your interpretation. Being Bold ans Sharing your true colors is something that I need to follow as well . Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    Stopping form SITS Girls.

  15. Great read, I totally agree with #4. Even though it’s easier said than done lol just going for it and trying is better than no effort at all. Stopping by from SITS girls!

  16. These are all really great! I never would have thought to link peacocks with any form of advocacy!
    -Elle
    coming from the Comment Love Tribe

  17. Gorgeous post, Emily! I love peacocks, too. I think they are so fascinating! We live in a small town up in the mountains. We have a little cabin restaurant up here tucked up in the wooded area and the owners have a male and female peacocks just running around. People come from all over just to eat over here. It’s really fun.

  18. Peacocks are truly magnificent, but I’d never really thought of comparing them in this way. So true, and could apply to any person. Great post.

    Visiting via SITSGirls

  19. My grandparents had peafowl – peacocks and peahens. They were named Charlie and Emmie. They would roost in the trees over the dog pen and cry at night. Thanks for a reason to remember them. dropping in from SITS girls.

  20. This was a really helpful post! I love each of the four points and am so happy to have discovered your blog.
    Thank you

    best,
    diane

    Dropping by from SITS girls today.
    #SITSBlogging

  21. I must say that I have never met anyone who had a love for peacocks! They are certainly a beautiful bird! I am trying to teach my 11 year old self acceptance now. Not that I am too good about it myself, but I am hoping that he learns it much earlier in life than myself.

  22. The first time I heard a peacock it scared the daylights out of me. Then I heard it all the time and learned my neighbors had them. As always, your words are beautiful. You are a strong advocate. Sometimes, the quiet and self assured person is the one that everyone notices.

    1. Thanks for your lovely compliment, Herchel. It’s the self assured part that I’m working on right now. I won’t be scaring the daylights out of anyone anytime soon though, I hope 😉

  23. That is pretty amazing! I am sorry that I start thinking about the zoo as soon as I think of peacocks. My son loves them because they run free at our zoo. It’s amazing and yes I have heard them make their noise they don’t hide the fact that they are around.

    Thanks for this amazing and insightful post!

  24. You know, I never thought about associating peacocks with advocacy, but you really have a fantastic point! They really can teach you some wonderful things about advocacy, which is a big thing in my field. Either way, I think the peacock is an exceptional animal to be fascinated by, not just because of what you can learn from them, but because they’re also a beautiful animal. I’ll have to post some peacock photos up for you on my blog one day, haha. #SITSblogging

    1. I absolutely would love to see you put up peacock photos along with the rest of your photography! If you do, let me know so I can check them out! Thank you so much for stopping by.

  25. You totally need to rig some kind of peacock feather for the back of your chair! That would be awesome. I used to have a peacock feather my mom bought me on a trip to the Phila Zoo, and I always loved the bold colors and distinctness (is that a word? lol) of a peacock. I love how you were able to take something (the quiz) and turn the results into something about advocacy. <3

    1. As if I don’t make enough of a scene when I enter a room already…imagine what that would be like if I had a little button on my wheelchair that would make peacock feathers fan out all over the place. And how awesome that you actually have a peacock feather. Interestingly, that’s one of the few peacock things I don’t have…

      Thank you for reading, as always <3

  26. Wow! I had never thought of a peacock this way. Living in South Florida, we have them living in our yards, crossing the street and sometimes causing havoc. They definitely have that “seen and be seen” attitude. While the classic peacock demands attention, the white ones are just jaw-dropping. Sometimes you don’t have to be in your face and colorful to garner attention. I believe you just need to believe in something to be an advocate. Be brave but kind and believe in yourself!

    Stopping by with comment love from your SITS group!

    1. Ida, I’m loving your peacock and advocacy insight! You’re so right about the white ones – they deserve and receive an attention all their own! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  27. Love the peacock story! If I had to pick an animal I would have to say the desert tortoise. There’s the obvious, “tortoise and the hare” thing but I work with a festival that takes place each summer in our town park. Each year “the animal guy” brings his gigantic tortoise. There is a river in the middle of the park. The tortoise can sense the water. The man will take the tortoise out of his crate and put him in the grass and he will make straight for the river… through a sea of legs, under picnic tables, over broken tree branches… straight toward the goal. Nothing stops him. When he gets dangerously far away the guy will go get him and bring him back to our little corner of the park and set him down and he will immediately turn in the right direction and head straight back toward the river once again. I can’t even imagine how much I could accomplish with even half that much determination!

  28. I really enjoyed reading your post! I encourage my students to practice self advocacy and once they build their skill sets to use their knowledge to advocate for others who may not be as comfortable being visible and bold. #SITSGirlsBlogging Comment Love Tribe

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Esther! That’s exactly what I love to hear – teaching your students the value of advocacy! Sounds like you’re a great teacher!

  29. Brilliantly written. Would be seeing peacocks from a different perspective now, credit goes to you Emily.

  30. At a park I visit, peacocks eat out of your hand. There is a white peacock and it’s the most beautiful bird in the world.

  31. Hi, visiting you via The SITS Girls. Your post is very true. Peacocks are not shy when they display their true colors and what they;re all about, and when you believe in something and are fighting for something, neither should you. I wish you the best with your blogging and with your advocacy!

  32. The ‘show your true colors’ is something most of us can learn from peacocks. I am not sure I would like if everyone did it though, I think we are sometimes happier with what we get even if it’s not what you see 🙂

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