By Cindy Yantis
The albatross gets a bad rap.
We often associate a heavy burden with this guy: “This (fill in the blank) is an albatross around my neck.” Until poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the notion in his 1798 poem, the albatross was considered good luck by sailors when it followed their ship. But, in the poem, a mariner shoots the albatross and as punishment his companions make him wear the dead bird around his neck.
You’d think it would be a breeze to fly with an eleven-foot wingspan, but a young albatross has an incredibly difficult time getting off the ground. In fact, it takes literally weeks for him to figure out how to take flight. Yes, weeks! He tries everything, running leaps followed by quick flapping of his gigantic wings and jumping off rocks and hills only to fall clumsily back to the ground. Lots of trial and error. Lots of persistence and single-minded focus.
Then, one day, when all of the painstaking preparation meets the opportunity of the right gust of wind, the albatross soars beautifully and effortlessly across the sea. And here’s the kicker: once he’s in his zone doing what he was meant to do, he won’t set foot on land again for five years.
So, this magnificent creature that is literally built to fly like no other has to figure it out. With instinct and an innate knowing of who he truly is as his guide, he does it.
It got me thinking about how as magnificent human beings we already have all of the equipment under the hood necessary to do whatever we set our minds to do. But, as multi-faceted freethinking spirits, it’s so easy to let ego and a multitude of factors get in our way from meeting our true destinies. Many times we focus on what we’re told we should be doing rather than what we’re meant to do, our true heart’s desire.
The albatross has a big mission in mind. If he all of sudden decided he would rather be a whale or a polar bear (after all, they eat fish too) then just think of the time and energy he would waste trying to fit into a mold where his big floppy wings will be seen as a flaw rather than the strength that they are. Or if he tried to be another bird because he saw how much easier it was for them to fly. Imagine a hummingbird watching the albatross stumble to take flight and saying, “what’s the big deal, dude?” as it buzzes around above his head.
But no, the albatross has a big mission in mind and he knows he has all the equipment to get him there.
To my way of thinking the albatross has a few lessons he can teach us brilliant and often wayward humans:
- Know your strengths. The albatross doesn’t focus on his weaknesses, but rather his strengths.
- Understand your equipment. Know what your capabilities are and if you need to educate yourself to improve them, then do so.
- Keep your eye on the target. Take the time to determine your life or career mission and then gear everything you do toward fulfilling that mission.
- Follow your Instincts. Listen to the signals your heart and body give you as you’re on your journey. Your gut is usually right, even when your head tries to steer you. Follow your gut.
And, first and last, always –
Rock your inner albatross!