Watch Birds…They get it.


I spent all last week in Florida with the Ursinus Softball team. It was a week of fun times, great softball (Now an 8-0 start to the season–Go Bears!   and “magical memories” :-). I’m excited to be a part of something this special. I watched some great players step up and make some amazing things happen. I saw a leader in each and every one of them.
We spent Wednesday, which was our day off, at the beach. What a great day. Sun and sand, and beautiful ocean. What an awesome time to relax.  While sitting there on the beach, I saw an amazing sight.
A  pelican swooped down and landed right next to us. So cool…
As we were getting ready to leave the beach, I looked up and saw a flock of pelicans flying in a “V” formation.
For years I have talked about how awesome I think it is to watch birds fly. I have used this metaphor since I was 24, teaching young entrepreneurs how to build a business from the ground up.

When they all fly together, they get it. They create something so impressive with their flight pattern, it makes me stop to watch every time.
The front bird in the “V” leads the way. It works hard, cutting the wind and making it easier on the rest of the flock. As a leader, sometimes you need to be out in front, working harder than everyone else, leading the way and taking the brunt of the wind. Then, when that front bird gets tired, it slips back and someone else takes the lead. And if any of the birds get tired or injured, they descend to the ground and another bird ALWAYS goes with them. They never go alone. They never leave their “wingman.” They stay on the ground until that bird can fly again, and they go back up and join another flock. They adapt. They always work together… and they know how to utilize each other. Birds who fly in a V formation will fly 70% farther and faster than they could ever go alone. See, as a good leader, you learn how to not only lead out in front, but you learn how to lead from the flock.

Yesterday, we hosted a field trip at ETC for the Girls Leadership program from the West Chester area school district. 42 middle school girls were visiting us for the morning and we played some games, talked about goals and what it takes to be a good leader, and capped it off with a pizza lunch. I heard some really amazing stories, some girls who really touched me and some who really just want to make something of their lives. It warmed my heart. But the most humbling part was when two of the girls presented me with a gift at the end of the morning in front of the group. They handed me a small box and a card as a token of their thanks for the time I had spent with them. I had spoken at their school a couple months ago, and also took some time out to head out to Radnor Middle School to kick off the Girls Leadership Conference as a guest speaker, and the first one of the day. I spoke there about geese… and how we all need help flapping our wings sometimes. How they just get it… this leadership thing.
When I opened that box, I felt a tear quickly fill my eye. In it was a handcrafted pewter Canadian Goose pin… made in Canada. It was bought at the Olympics by the director of the program. It was used as a symbol there of the games. I was completely surprised and humbled. The two young girls looked at me and thanked me for teaching them what leadership is and being a strong role model for them. They thanked me for being an inspiration and a mentor in their lives. It was a moment I won’t soon forget.

Then today, at our game… I was coaching first. Off in the distance I saw the biggest flock of geese I think I have ever seen in the sky. It was an amazing sight. And as it came closer, it flew over the field, almost as a reminder of what kind of team I am blessed to coach.
And so I realized yesterday, and today… that the girls that I have worked with who have thanked me, on the field and off, at ETC and elsewhere… are the real leaders. They are the ones that I am watching develop their wings and fly. I enjoy leading from the flock. And when I need to take the brunt of the wind, I have no problem doing so if it makes them fly easier. This is my passion, helping build stronger wings.
So next time you see a V in the sky, take a second to marvel at the beauty…
We should all watch birds… they get it.

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