Welcome to this Navigate the Chaos blog post. To hire Michael for a keynote speech, workshop, or presentation be sure to visit the Contact page. You can also purchase a copy of the latest Navigate the Chaos collection and download the Google calendar for free.

How often do you endure caterpillars to befriend butterflies?


Today is May 3 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you endure caterpillars to befriend butterflies?” Another way of considering the phrase ‘enduring caterpillars to befriend butterflies’ is radical transformation. How does this wondrous process occur by which a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly?


According to The Scientific American in an August 10, 2012, article “The story usually begins with a very hungry caterpillar hatching from an egg. The caterpillar, or what is more scientifically termed a larva, stuffs itself with leaves, growing plumper and longer through a series of molts in which it sheds its skin. One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins itself a silky cocoon or molts into a shiny chrysalis. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly or moth.”


To unpack this strategy of radical transformation available to anyone willing to leverage their mind, body, and spirit, let us reflect upon each step of the process to engage in a self-reflection exercise with questions throughout each of the four steps.


Step 1: a very hungry caterpillar.

  • How hungry are you?

  • How often do you have the self-awareness to realize just how hungry you are?

  • How long have you gone without food?

  • How long have you delayed pursuing your dreams?

  • Why are you waiting to feed yourself?

  • Are you engaging in some form of self-sabotage by delaying the nourishment your self is longing for?


Step 2: the caterpillar turned larva stuffs itself with leaves.

  • What do you need to stuff yourself with to transform from the person you are to the person you want to be?

  • What will nourish your soul?

  • Have you even thought about what you need to eat?

  • Does your mind need education?

  • Does your body need movement?

  • Does your soul need love?


Step 3: the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down and spins itself into a shiny chrysalis. During this phase of the radical transformation, it may appear that you are merely standing still, or in this case, hanging around. But no! You are allowing that you which you digested to transform you. During this incubation period you allow the nourishment to do itsjob.

· Are you patient enough to wait for your transformation to crystallize?

· Do you understand the value of time here as it relates to the incubation period involved with the transformation?


Step 4: the caterpillar completes its radical transformation and emerges into a butterfly. This last time requires an inordinate amount of courage.

  • Do you have the courage to come out of your shell and emerge onto the world stage different than you were?

  • You will now have wings and can fly – are you ready?

  • You will be more beautiful, and people will notice – are you ready?

  • You will be light and able to fly – are you ready?


French writer Antoine de Saint- Exupéry published his novella The Little Prince in 1943. The novella is one of the most-translated books in the world and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry was exiled to North America. During personal upheavals and failing health, he produced almost half of the writings for which he would be remembered, including a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss, in the form of a young prince fallen to Earth.


An earlier memoir by the author had recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara Desert, and he is thought to have drawn on those same experiences in The Little Prince. Recognizing the transformational potential within each of us Saint-Exupéry wrote “well I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” In other words, if you want to have some of one, you need to put up with the other. Is this not true of most of our relationships? Is it not true of being kind towards ourselves? No one is born a butterfly. Even the people we consider butterflies today had a caterpillar stage at some point. The important point is to realize that if we keep growing, the butterfly stage is available to each of us. We can get there if we keep working at it. Eventually, we will get better and better, and then one day, we will realize we have become the butterfly we wanted to be.

  • How often do you work on your radical transformation of becoming a butterfly?

  • Is someone helping you transform into a butterfly?

  • Have you helped anyone transform into a butterfly?

  • Is someone holding you back from transforming into a butterfly?

  • Are you holding anyone back from transforming into a butterfly?