Pelican Leadership

Before I jump into the point, I will share with you a poem. Self entitled “The Pelican” by my Grandpa Howie and first recited to me at age 7.

The Pelican

A marvelous bird is the Pelican

His beak can hold more than his belly can

But I don’t know how in the hell he can.

As a law abiding 7 year old, I clearly remember saying “Ooh, I’m gonna tell my dad you said a swear word” As threatening as I thought that was, my grandfather was unfazed and just repeated the poem. Anywho, as this poem came into my memory and hence, inspired this blog post I thought i’d give it the credit it’s due.

Now, on to my point.

As i recently watched various pelicans during my 135 mile Project Athena Road Trip from Key Largo to Key West via bike, foot and kayak, this poem popped into my head. It is actually pretty amazing that they can hold entire fish in their beak. It’s fascinating to watch them fish. You can get the basic facts on this bird here.

But this post is about something I learned about Leadership from watching the Pelican. First, watch this video.


Kudos to the person that put this on youtube. You really can find anything there. Not only did i find an example of what i wanted but it’s set to music as well.

Anyway, 2 things to note:

1. Pelican go up high and often alone or in small groups to get the big picture. In leadership they say it’s lonely at the top and I agree. But, it’s key to gain perspective by rising above the minutia and day to day tasks. Bring a few key confidants with you if you have them but get off the hamster wheel and try to see your operation from a different perspective.

2. Pelican are great activators. Once they see an opportunity (aka fish) they literally dive into action. In business, way too much time is spent planning and then not actually doing. Watch how they give their all and literally “dive-bomb” the fish. Once you have a target, do you attack the plan with as much ferocity?

It’s also important to note, they don’t catch a fish EVERY time but they are trying and give it 100%.

So there are my quick thoughts. Agree or disagree? What else can you add?



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