If an executive wanted to be compared to a bird, the Family Feud survey would say ‘eagle’ well at the top of the list. This is the avian analogy that poker players use to describe someone who balances aggressiveness with restraint. But, maybe the eagle is not the sure-fire choice. After all, Benjamin Franklin advocated the turkey as the national bird for the United States over the eagle. And my Dad’s book, Shorelines, makes a soaring case for the even more unsung fowl…the seagull.
“The gull is our beach pigeon. It is as much a fixture of the shoreline as the water and the sand, as omnipresent as the pigeon in a city park. Gulls also have the unique distinction of being the only birds that have adapted enough to live on all seven continents. Forty-three species of gulls that range from the white-headed herring gull to the all-white gull of the Arctic ice pack live in such far-ranging areas as the tropics, with temperatures well over 100 degrees, and at the frigid poles of the Arctic and Antarctic. Gulls can be found on the edge of an isolated island or in the middle of a crowded beach…An unlikely teacher, the gull exhibits a unique balance of gritty adaptability and lofty soaring. There are times in our lives when balancing adaptation with acceptance becomes a matter of survival.”
The strength of the gull’s adaptability is a strong theme in embracing failure. But, I am taken by the balance of soaring high in the air with strongly and cleverly managing gritty realities of survival.
Leaders soar. Managers are gritty. Both together thrive on the shoreline.