Turtles are among the most diverse creatures on the planet. How many species of animals can you name that live in the ocean, land, lakes, and swamps? Not very many for sure. They are associated with being wise, committed, although a bit introverted. Here are some leadership lessons we can learn from these creatures.
They are determined.
Growing up in Louisiana, I lived in the country where we had box turtles that came through every year to lay eggs. You could pick them up and turn them around in the opposite direction and they would pull themselves in their shell, wait it out, turn back around and head in the original direction they were going. Sea turtles make the trek every few years to lay eggs at the same beaches, no doubt navigating a determined journey to get there in the process.
When life picks you up and turns you around, how do you react? Do you pick yourself up and keep moving or let the person/circumstance keep you down? The tortoise famously beat the hare in the children’s story because of its slow and steady commitment to moving forward while avoiding distraction. Stay determined to hit your goal or reach your journey. Don’t let discouragement set in when you don’t see immediate results or something doesn’t go as planned.
They need to struggle to survive.
Many turtles must struggle, some as soon as they are born, in order to survive. You’ve likely seen videos or pictures of volunteers helping on the shore as sea turtles hatch and make their crawling journey to the ocean. Why don’t the volunteers pick them up and place them in the ocean to help them out? The turtles are too weak to survive the ocean current when they are born. They gain their strength to swim during the struggle to make it down the beach.
It’s a lesson that I believe we need to be reminded of as we go through our own personal and professional struggles. Those struggles make you a stronger, wiser and more resilient individual for the future. Remember that as a coach, teacher, parent, and/or leader that your job isn’t to make the struggle or pain go away, you are there to help equip the person to rise up from the struggle. Otherwise, the person never gets strong enough to truly move forward.
They look forward because they have no choice.
Because of the turtle’s unique body structure, they have a fairly limited range of view and little to no hearing. They have to look forward because they really don’t have any other choice.
Wouldn’t that be nice at times? When we struggle, face defeat, and when things don’t go our way, we have a tendency to look back and focus on all the things that went wrong. “If only I had done ______ differently.” Follow the turtle’s lead and keep yourself forward-focused. Learn from your past to change your future, instead of letting it distract you from making progress towards your goals.
Make a better tomorrow.