What hand-to-hand Combat with an Owl Taught Me About Business

by | Jun 21, 2023 | Business Lessons, Chapter Ten | 0 comments

No, I did not attack an owl. 

Want to know what I learned from hand-to-hand combat with an owl (that’s not a metaphor) that you can use to today, to massively cut back your working hours AND still get the same (or likely much better) results in your biz?

Ok so let me just caveat this and say first, I did NOT intentionally engage in hand-to-hand combat with an owl for leisure, sport, fame or fortune. That’s not a thing. I sincerely hope. 

But I did work in a country park zoo that had a dedicated “Animal Room” where random animals lived for a time before going on to a better place, varying from “THE Better Place” to  a family home, to a real zoo enclosure. Possibly even to “The Good Place” which I happen to love, and now really want to watch again. 

In the Animal Room there was a one-eyed magpie called Jasper; a bunch of rabbits; the odd snake; assorted mini rodents like chipmunks, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters and such like;  one barn owl called Amber; and a choir of guinea pigs. 

The guinea pig coven had become so prolific – way to go, that one little dude – that while all the other species were in cages, the 50 or so guinea pigs that happened to be living there at the time of the unfortunate battle, were living on the floor. Literally just running about everywhere. A little board added to the doorway stopped them getting out when you opened the door, and you just kind of hopped over the board to get in

But I also didn’t exactly plan ahead.  

Amber, the owl, was NEW. It was the very first time we were cleaning out her cage, and as the people-pleasing-good-girl-no-problem-too-big-never-learned-the-word-no one in the group, it somehow mysteriously became my job to figure it out and do it. 

With a plan of how I THOUGHT it would go, I got to work. That plan was “a treat will keep her busy… right.” I opened her cage. Whoops. As so often happens in life, it rapidly became clear that sometimes a plan is only good on paper. She flew right out, into the symphony of guinea pigs and was seconds away from a full on G-P all you can eat buffet when I managed to grab her. 

It turns out, even barn owl wings are STRONG AF. Every time I got her wings closed enough to get her through the small cage door, she pushed them open again. For a full eternity. Or maybe 15 minutes.Possibly even only 2 or 3 minutes. But it felt SO long. Exhausting doesn’t even come close. Think demonic accordion with talons and a beak that’s actively trying to scar you for life with a bloodbath you can never unsee and will definitely be blamed for. 

Then, just when I thought my arms would fall off and she’d fly away and eat the entire sass of guinea piggies, she quieted. I had won.

The lesson was sweeter than the victory though.  

I got her back in the cage. Victory at the end of a battle of my own miscalculated doing, was somehow still as sweet. Even though it looked like my end point is exactly where I started, but with a lot more sweat and tears spent (thankfully we were all spared the blood), something inside me had changed. 

NOW… how does this apply to your business… (cos I KNOW by now you’re really wondering)  

Next time I went to clean the cage, I went in with a plan informed by experience. A treat AND an XL shovel (like a snow shovel), with a mid-length handle, that I used to gently close her off one side of the cage, then the other, whilst I cleaned the cage out. Simple. Soon Amber and I became best human and owl friends, and I used to walk around the park with her on my shoulder (health and safety wasn’t invented yet, it was the early 90s).

What Amber the Owl taught me about business  

You can’t plan for every eventuality, especially when you are acting without experience. That’s something entrepreneurship asks of you every day, so mistakes aren’t just a potential hazard they are an inevitability. You get things right faster when you realise your “mistakes” aren’t failures, they’re your learning moments. By being in it and playing with possibility, you get better. If you don’t take any action at all in case you make a mistake, you don’t grow. Research supports this – practice beats perfectionism every time. You’ll never end up exactly where you started, because YOU come out the other side changed.  

I’ve seen so many people feel like something didn’t work once and then make that mean really negative things that damage their self-esteem and consequently their business. Like

  • one failed sales call = nobody wants my offer
  • one failed launch = there really just aren’t clients in my niche
  • one missed deadline = maybe I’m just not cut out of this
  • one customer complaint or refund request = I’m not good enough. 

And one of two things happen

  • They swing wildly from niche to niche, and change their niche and offer all the time, because in believing one mistake means something big is wrong, they set about fixing it with massive changes rather than minor tweaks.
  • They quit their business (btw, my first ever coach went out of business just like this) because it’s hard and exhausting, if you think you’re already working smarter and it’s still not working.  Remember the saying “work smarter, not harder”  – smarter working comes from curiously observing and taking small, intentional steps, not from reinventing the wheel every time you hit a bump. 

Working smarter in your business is almost NEVER throwing the baby out with the bath water, and almost always adding a really small piece, like the snow shovel. Or viewed another way, taking away a really small piece, like the owl’s view of the amphitheater of guinea pigs. It’s a minor edit, not a full rewrite. That’s why I help clients look at things like 

  • Zooming in even closer on their client relationships, and totally falling head over heels for people they already know, instead of switching up everything in their business to try and attract all new people they’ve never once spoken to in their life
  • Tightening up their storytelling to reflect that powerful connection, so that it’s always on point, rather than surfing around different platforms trying to catch all the trends and feeling like nothing ever sticks 
  • Making sure they are energetically aligned with their offer AND their price in relationship with one another, before they go out and start over again with a whole new product suite
  •  Shifting their mindset around sales and money, to make sales easy and powerful, instead of hiring a sales team  
  • Using more of their life story and life skills to increase the value their offer overnight to increase impact and income, instead of taking another course.

Remember you are not doing everything wrong.  

If you’ve been around a while in business and  feel like you’re ready and experienced enough to be attracting amazing people and having great sales conversations that convert into dream client relationships, but your business is still essentially that fight with the owl, then know this: 

Yes, you are doing something a little bit wrong somewhere. But you are NOT doing everything wrong! You’re doing lots of things right. Most likely you’re actually doing virtually everything right some of the time, but being derailed by one small, super annoying detail – it’s hard holding the belief that something is working long enough for it to really take off.

One shift can change everything in your business.  

The good news is you’re always closer to success than you think. It’s one decision, one shift, one belief away. Even if that shift looks huge on the surface, like a whole big pivot, the changes are still really pretty superficial. If we look at the case of my client Nicole, she made apparently huge changes, switching from working on dating to sobriety, from women to men, from Instagram to Tiktok… 

But underneath it all, she was still working on her clients relationship with themselves. Men and women are all humans, and binary gender is a construct. The truth is she didn’t even set out to change from working with just women to men, it just changed on its own when she took all the exact same things she was doing and saying and made one shift: from talking about being ready for dating to being ready to break up with alcohol. She was even still using the exact same healing tools like breathwork and NLP, and all of her existing knowledge about audience growth and content creation. 

Her business before had been the owl fight. But in taking one powerful step that allowed her to bring more of her power and truth into her business, she was able to go from struggling to get a few clients to sold out. Nicole says:

‘Since working with Morgana I found so much wholeness in myself, in my relationships and my happiness. And out of it was born a beautiful business. It hasn’t even been a year yet. And I have 5x’d my revenue. I have consistent sales. I’m overly fully booked for 1:1s with the most beautiful clients…I made more in the last year than I did in the first two and a half years.’ 

A year has since passed and Nicole has not only stayed sold out, but written a bestselling book on sobriety that’s changing people’s lives. That one shift changed everything.

My invitation to you: Use your energy as a guide.  

My invitation to you today is to think “where do I believe right now that I’m working SMARTER? And is that really the case, or is there an even smarter way?” Use your energy as a guide. If anything feels even a little bit like you’re fighting an owl, it’s not working.  

Fighting an owl once is exhausting. But building a business where you have to do it every day just to keep your head above water is insane. There are ways to build a business that give you back TIME, JOY and FREEDOM in your life, not just money.  The journey is a healing one, of bringing yourself, your business and your life into alignment. Knowing who you are and what you truly want, is where you find your shift that changes everything.


Dr. Morgana

Dr. Morgana McCabe Allan


There’s always more to LEARN

And here’s just a few starting points…

“I’m sharing a win, I made more money this week in my business than on any other offer last year. And it was so easy. This money river is flowing today! I’m only $700 away from hitting my new monthly goal and it’s only the 2nd of the month!”

Elena Saxton

Coach for Artisans

Morgana McCabe Allan is incredibly wise yet personable, revolutionary yet relational, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to be coached through mindset calls with her. I will be hearing her words in my head for years to come!

Danielle Bettmann

Host of Failing Motherhood Podcast

“I signed my first client!! {…} I showed up on the call fully present, gave her everything I could and I told her I want to offer her a 3 month package where I will honour the free sessions I had posted about within the price point. And she signed up! 🙂 “