• Service Leadership

The Penguin Principle

Posted on Mon March 12, 2018.

This Blog forms part of sequence of short stories where wilderness experiences are found that bring us closer to our Self and inspire us to create the life we want to live. We are reminded that observing wilderness brings us personal growth and insights we can take home and integrate in our busy daily lives where-ever that might be.

This wilderness experience is an unexpected one that showed me how valuable it is to be in the right environment that fits with my talents, strengths and my personality.

We all experience in our lives moments and periods of happiness where everything is almost in a natural state of “flow”. Things go effortless and you get even help from unexpected sides and people. It is like we jumped on a running train that goes exactly to where we want to go to.

The awareness is that we need to have is that this natural state of “flow” is the normal state we all should live our lives in. Instead we find our Self in hard, tough and unwanted situations and we experience that we need to put in more and more energy and effort to get where we want to go to.  We feel often exhausted and frustrated because of this. So how do we get back to this natural state of “flow”? I would like to remind myself as much as possible about the following wilderness experience I had when I once visited the Cape Town area. Specifically Boulders beach close by the naval base, sea-side village of Simonstown.

When I saw my first African Penguin I was not impressed at all. On the beach there were around a hundred of them. They seemed to move clumsy around, often losing their balance and quarrelling between themselves. Somehow God also forgot to give them knees. What a strange design did their bodies have and there was no neck! Then everything changed. As soon as I saw one of them swimming the insight hit me and I could only admire their speed, agility and effortless movement under water. It was performing there the most unreal twists and turns that were clearly visible from my viewpoint. I later read that they could swim for around two thousand kilometres with just an energy equivalent of 1 litre of petrol. The African Penguin is clearly in it’s element; water.

Looking at the penguins on Boulders beach reminded me about two things. The first is how quickly we judge other people by looking at them in one situation and that we often misjudge others by doing this. The second is how important our element or environment is where we are in for our unique set of talents, strengths and personality to develop and thrive.

I ask myself the question where I am in the wrong environment that doesn’t support my talents and strengths and how I can take little Penguin steps towards the element that works for me and where I find myself in a natural state of “flow”. These environments could be our work environment, our relation environment or maybe even our friendship environment. Do I recognise the right environment for myself? How does that element feel and look like? Do I have the courage to take my little Penguin steps towards that environment or do I want to stay inside my old element where I feel frustrated and that costs me tons of energy to sustain my Self?

I wish you lots of fun, flow and adventure finding your own unique environment where you thrive like a swimming African penguin in its water.