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  • Rodney Lee Mills

Have You Ever Seen A Penguin Fly?

When we think about the movements of a penguin, the ability to fly probably doesn’t come to mind. Instead, we get this picture of an oddly shaped bird waddling across the ice. I always wondered why they were designed this way. It wasn’t until I saw them move about on both ice and in the water in the same setting that it began to make sense to me.

I love taking my kids to the Omaha Zoo. One of the reasons I like going there is because of zoo's penguin display. The penguin area is of considerable size with floor to ceiling glass covering the entire length of the display. The top-to-bottom glass allows you to see the penguins waddling above the ice and the penguins swimming below in the water. During one of our visits, a particular penguin caught my eye. It wasn't because it looked different from the others but because of how it was moving throughout the penguin display. This particular penguin would waddle a few steps and then slide on it's belly into the water. It would then glide through the water with the greatest of ease and then shoot out of the water and back onto the ice. It would repeat the process over and over again. I thought, as awkward as it looked on ice, it looked just as amazing in the water. That is when it hit me. Its odd shape wasn’t designed for flight in the air or to move about on the ice but for "flight" in the water.

As I later reflected on that moment, I realized that some of us are just like that penguin. Many of us look just as out of place as that penguin because we are trying to be something we are not. When you see us trying to be that person, we look just like the penguin on ice. We look out of place and sometimes even awkward. But when you see someone doing what they are meant to be doing, they look just like the penguin in water. Like the penguin, we probably find that everything that once seemed like a hindrance is now an asset and our abilities seem effortless.

The lesson the penguin teaches us is a valuable one. It reminds us to live and operate in an environment and capacity suited to our own strengths and abilities. Have you ever found yourself struggling in a job or activity? Did you ever feel like your talents and abilities would be better suited elsewhere? If so, maybe you feel just like the penguin, waddling away making the most of what you have to work with day in and day out. If you feel this way, have you thought about expanding your horizons?

It is important to realize that just because you may struggle at first with a job or activity, it doesn’t mean it is time to jump ship or change course. I’m talking to the person who has come to this realization after much prayer or consideration about what they been doing. I’m talking to the person who finds that they are constantly fighting that uphill battle and things still just don’t feel right. If this is you, maybe it is time to determine if you are meant for something different.

If this is you, here are some things to consider. When I think about changing course, I think of a few things. First, I look back at what others have said to me in the past. Both positive and negative comments can give you a gauge at what others see as strengths and weaknesses in you. Secondly, I look at what I am good at. After all, no one knows you better than yourself. These two perspectives is what got me to start this blog. I never would have thought of blogging as a possibility until I received numerous comments on my storytelling ability. Till this day, I don’t consider myself a great writer but the positive comments about my storytelling have kept me going.

Another thing I consider are the situations or relationships I have had in the past? I do not think things happen chaotically and when I look back at the people I encountered and the situations I have been placed in, I began to see a pattern develop. Personally, I have always found myself playing a consulting role to people in leadership positions in an organization. I have also found myself in leadership roles, even when I sought to just sit back in the background. So I see it as no coincidence that I am currently the consulting lead for a large organization where we also provide leadership and professional development opportunities to our organization.

So what about you? Do you see a pattern emerging in your own life? What situations and people have you found yourself drawn to? What are your strengths? Maybe this pattern has shown that you are right where you need to be. Maybe deep down inside, you know that you were called to do something else.

Remember not to jump ship too early. Certain situations are designed to teach us something about ourselves or others. There is a time and season for everything and life is a process. Don’t fast forward through a relationship or experience that is meant to get you to a place you eventually are destined to be. These moments may seem like you are waddling through and barely making any progress but as soon as you jump into the water, you will be happy that you have the talent and experience of the past as you begin to use them effortlessly in the future.

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