Birds Of A Feather

Columns of cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust in M16, the Eagle Nebula

Pictures of the Eagle Nebula from the Hubble telescope are jaw-dropping. In fact, the whole universe is filled with mind-blowing events, facts, and figures. You don’t need to say it – I’m a closet nerd. Simply put, I have always been amazed at the wonders of life.

The formation of a baby from two microscopic cells is just as astonishing as gigantic stars forming in space, but it wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realized how truly amazing new life can be.

I was particularly surprised to see that soon after her birth my daughter started exhibiting distinct personality traits, which made me realize that “my” child was her own person. That’s an obvious statement, right? Not to this new daddy. I was under the assumption that we would have to work our tails off to ensure positive experiences for our daughter so that she would form a well-rounded personality that would help her in life.

There’s no one answer about the distinct source of someone’s personality development, but I’m fairly certain that genetics play a tremendous role, and the traits and features of our characters are inherently embedded in us from before we are even born. If my noble winning caliber theory holds up, then it must be outside influences that help give our personality its final shape.

Some people’s traits remind me of physical properties of water (see: “I’m a closet nerd” above). Someone lacking confidence will mold and adopt the “shape” of the surrounding environment. This trait is innate to water molecules, yet it’s the  outside forces that finally help liquid develop its shape.

Like water and my beautiful 6 year old daughter, we too are directly influenced by outside forces. Our personality traits determine how we react toward them. Sure, being a big fish in a small pond is a huge ego boost. You know what else it is? A laziness and complacency enabler. Not being the smartest (richest, most successful, best-looking – insert any other superlative here) in the crowd is, without a doubt, a lot less cool. It’s also a lot more beneficial. Having high achieving friends is so important that I try to surround myself with winners as much as I can.

Winners are those that have their life together, constantly seek to improve, are always learning, and are always striving to be better. They are kind-hearted, compassionate, lend a helping hand without hesitation, and don’t step on others even if it means getting ahead for them. Winners don’t believe that the end justifies the means. They are good people with manners, respect for others, and a respectable in their own right. Most importantly, winners look at successes as a journey and not a destination, and deal with problems and learn from mistakes.

Let’s take a lesson from nature. Flocks flying in a V shape benefit from an improved aerodynamic performance. The shape of the flying flock results in the lead bird bearing the brunt of encountering the still air (the highest amount of wind resistance), and thus creates a disturbance off its wings that makes it easier for all the birds behind it.

The lead bird gets some benefits of the other birds flying behind it but it isn’t until it gets tired that it can truly appreciate flying in a flock. Instead of having to land and rest, the lead bird falls back into the formation, gets relieved by one of the birds behind it and enjoys an easier flying experience. The process of taking over the leader spot and then falling back when tired happens throughout the flight allowing the birds to evenly distribute the work load.

What you won’t find is a “super leader” bird that leads the flock from the start of the journey to the end of the flight. The key to victory for these birds (besides a good diet and pure dumb luck) is team work.

Absurd as it may sound, we can learn from the instinctual nature of birds to form similar teams. Yes, we all have different goals, but if one surrounds himself with winners, he or she will find that although their destinations are very different, the journey will be the same. Sometimes you will find yourself leading the pack and sometimes you will need to step back and rely on those around you to pull a little more weight. If you look through your peer group and realize that you’re the mythical “super bird,” then you should consider changing the flock your flying with or you might risk getting nowhere fast and spending a lot of energy to get there by yourself.

Winners usually don’t have the luxury of sitting around the house all day so their busy schedules might make it difficult to get together. If you can’t physically join the company of a winner, watch them on TV, read their books and blogs, email them, or setup a phone date.

Whatever you do don’t fall out of the flock!!

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