Are You the Chicken? or the Pig?

If you consider a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what is the difference between the chicken and the pig?

It’s a question that determines commitment. While the chicken can produce many eggs over a lifetime, the pig can produce bacon only once. The chicken may be involved in the breakfast, but the pig is totally committed.

So what does that have to do with independent advocacy?

Over the years, I’ve heard from dozens (maybe hundreds) of people who tell me they want to call themselves advocates, and be profiled in the AdvoConnection Directory, but aren’t entirely committed to the profession yet. They don’t meet our listing criteria, but they push us to let them be listed anyway.*

“I just want to be listed in the directory to see if anyone calls me.”

“I’m just trying to figure out if I can make a living doing advocacy.”

“I’m just testing the waters.”

Maybe you’ve had the same idea. You just aren’t sure, but if you could just be listed in the directory…. and that’s the sum total of your commitment. You don’t purchase liability insurance. You don’t do any other marketing. You haven’t built a website.

You haven’t truly committed.

Why? Because you’re just testing the waters. And you think that if you are listed in the directory, that will help you decide.

Let’s examine that.

One reason folks are reluctant to jump all-in is because of what commitment means to their current lives. For example, they may be working full time jobs, supporting their families. Going all-in on a new business threatens what does work in their lives, even though they may not be happy with that circumstance.

Another reason is because it can get expensive to set up a new business. No one successfully hangs out a shingle, states they are in business, then succeeds. It requires an investment (capitalization) to be able to afford and pay for things like liability insurance, building a website, joining professional organizations, and more. Someone who has little capital to invest wants some sort of reassurance they aren’t wasting what they’ve got.

OK – I get that reluctance to commit. You can see that I understand it.

Despite the fact that I understand the reasons for it, I am adamant that

If you are merely the chicken, not entirely committed, you will fail.


Suppose you are arrested and taken to jail. Since you’ve never been arrested before you have no idea who to call! So you call a lawyer who advertises bail-outs. But his phone message says, “I return calls evenings and weekends” with no further explanation. Don’t you wonder why that lawyer doesn’t help during the day? With no answers, you decide he’s most definitely a chicken, and he cannot be helpful to you.

Suppose you are suffering some unusual and scary symptoms. You need to see a specialist you’ve never needed before and you need to choose the right one for you. You learn that one doctor devotes full time to her work and has a great reputation. You learn that another one works full time at another job, and may not always be available to you, even though she, too, has a great reputation. Which one is the chicken? Which one is the pig? Which one do you choose?

Now suppose you decide you want to pursue working with a patient advocate or care manager. So you look in a directory of advocates to find one. Upon interviewing a few advocates, and just in conversation, you learn that there were no pre-requisites for being listed – anyone who wanted to be listed could be listed. For one thing, it’s disturbing to you that there were no criteria – who ARE these people? How can you trust that they will be able to help you manage the quality and quantity of your life? You have no idea whether the listed advocates are chickens or pigs. But you are unsettled about the whole thing. You move on.

Each of these scenarios demonstrates a lack of commitment. In each case, the “professional” is protecting him or herself. But the searcher knows something is “off”. They have observed the world of the chicken.

To succeed in advocacy, or any profession, we must be pigs! (OK – I realize the metaphor sorta takes on a life of its own… but you get the point.) We must be all-in. We must do the preparation and due diligence that establishing a business requires, even if it takes more time, even if it’s more expensive, even if it’s uncomfortable.

So – fellow pigs… are you with me? I hope so!

I hope to see you in the advocacy barnyard with the smile on your face of a professional who is committed. We welcome all committed advocates to the AdvoConnection Directory!

*PS – and if you aren’t committed, no, you won’t be offered a listing in the AdvoConnection Directory.


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