We enjoy an abundance of wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. I live on the beach in Edmonds, Washington where, from my deck, I have seen gray whales, otters, and all manner of birds. The most common bird is the seagull and the least common is the bald eagle.
It was a clear, cold day, as I enjoyed my view of the extraordinary snow-covered Olympic Mountains off in the distance and was reminded of the absolute beauty of a winter's day in Edmonds, when the cry of a female gull interrupted my musing. Off in the distance stood a single bald eagle, waiting in silence, atop a lone pile near the ferry dock. I put on my headphones and watched in silence as I considered the differences between seagulls and bald eagles.
A bird is a bird is a bird, right? Well, you decide. Seagulls are everywhere. There are fifty gulls to every bald eagle. They are common, loud, and annoying. Seagulls are a punch line (my apologies to Richard Bach and his best-selling book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull): "Do you know what you call a guy with a seagull on his head? Cliff!" Seagulls are always crying to themselves for no apparent reason, almost like begging or a song of self-pity. They groom themselves constantly. They follow the flock; toss a bit of bread to one, and 25 more appear out of thin air! They cry and yell endlessly at each other (complaining). Finally, and perhaps most important, they settle for scraps and rely on charity. To be honest, no one admires a seagull. We don't stop and tell our children, "Look, a seagull!"
Bald eagles, on the other hand, are uncommon. They sit quietly alone for hours at a time. They wait, watch, observe, plan, and prepare for the hunt. When the time is right, they swoop down and pluck a sizable fish from the water and fly away. Wow!
- Bald eagles have seven-foot wingspans.
- They live a long time, up to 36 years.
- Bald eagles mate for life and are monogamous.
- They often hunt in pairs.
- They can fly up to 35 miles per hour and, in a power dive, they can get up to 75 miles per hour!
- The bald eagle has been our national symbol since 1782. They have been the symbol for excellence for centuries.
- Their feathers are a symbol of courage and distinction in Native American culture.
Which one are you?
In Jonthan Jantz's fine book, Duct Tape Marketing, he tells about Donald Levin of Levin Public Relations in Larchmont, New York:
"Levin uses what he calls, 'Levin's 10 Letters a Week', a strategy to gain new business. First, he researches ten companies that he thinks he can provide profitable service to, profitable to the company and profitable to his business. He studies their web site, calls to confirm the single best person to write to. Next, he writes all ten a concise letter that explains exactly what he can offer them and how and why they will benefit. He closes the letter by saying when he will call to arrange a meeting. Then he makes the calls. If he can't arrange a meeting, he finds out when he should call back (three months, six months, etc.). He keeps this information in a database and acts on it. The following Monday, he starts the whole process again."
Donald is an eagle. Like the eagle, he is quick, but doesn't hurry. He has a plan and he works it. He is patient, persistent, smart, focused, and he doesn't rely on scraps or charity. Donald works in a focused and systematic way. The price of leadership is loneliness. It's what you do when no one is looking that counts.
Being an eagle is hard; being a seagull is easy. It seems to me it's first a decision, then it's a philosophy, followed by deliberate and focused effort. Wow, there goes an eagle now! Amazing. I wish that seagull would stop all that noise.