The little ones started out incredibly cute and tiny, with feathers that looked like soft, yellow fur.
But now the adolescent geese are all gangly and noisy, with feet that are way too big for their bodies and feathers that are the color of mud.
And they are messy.
I have watched their evolution from hatchlings and have come to a conclusion about geese and people alike: there is no way to get to "regal" without passing through "awkward" on the way.
(And don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
You know you have a powder-blue prom tux or a Farah-Fawcett-Hair picture hidden away somewhere that will make my point for me...
) Maturing is a messy, awkward business, and that holds true not just for the process of physically maturing, but for any growth process that we undergo.
There comes a point in our transformation when we are no longer what we were, but what we hope to become is still just a glimmer on the horizon.
We examine our progress and are disappointed to find that, for now, we are all feet and feathers, regrets and good intentions, big ideas and false starts.
Some days we feel lucky to walk - flying is out of the question.
I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that we will become what we hope to be if we don't give up.
The bad news is that it's going to hurt.
In order to learn the lessons we need to learn, we are going to have to be stretched in uncomfortable ways.
We have to fall down.
We have to look silly.
We have to be willing to endure the process of growth, with all of its associated discomfort and awkwardness.
I have met people who elected to stay where they were because change was too painful, and they are no less a tragedy than a child who fails to thrive.
And just as in physical maturation, failure to thrive (or grow) in other areas will eventually lead to decline.
Whether it is in our career, our personal relationships, our educational pursuits or our emotional life, we cannot stagnate and expect to survive indefinitely.
Our survival depends on maintaining forward momentum.
We have to keep growing, keep seeking, and keep pushing ourselves to go just a little bit further.
I want to encourage you today to be patient with yourself as you grow, but also to never give yourself permission to quit.
Don't lose heart and excuse yourself from the fight with words like "that's just the way I am...
" It isn't just the way you are.
Stop trying to see your future in the rearview mirror.
Accept the present for what it is: an awkward phase.
Don't be afraid of the growing pains of life; they are only temporary.
If you can get past the goofy looking feathers and big feet, "regal" is waiting for you on the other side.
Douglas Engelbart once said, "The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.
"That blue prom tux already shows you can put up with a lot of embarrassment, so hang on.
You're almost there.