On a recent family vacation to one of our favorite places – Long Boat Key, Florida – we spent the majority of our time on the beach, enjoying Gulf breezes, watching and playing with the kids, having good conversation, and enjoying this beautiful state we live in. 

While we were away, I was reminded of how important it is to get away and “Sharpen the Saw,” as Dr. Stephen Covey has said. Covey is the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and I can say without a doubt this this book was the catalyst that developed my passion for leadership and began an exciting journey of self-transformation.

While on the beach, I noticed an important leadership lesson as I watched the Seagull verses the Sandpiper.  The seagulls are reactionary creatures.  They stand and stare at you, watching and waiting for a handout.  They come in groups and congregate around you.  They are lazy and unproductive.  I find their presence annoying and I kept trying to shoo them away.  We instructed the kids not to feed them. If we did feed them the 10 that we had standing around us would turn into 100 and we would never get rid of them.  Eventually, I just ignored them and I did not notice them so much.

On the other hand, the Sandpiper was much different than the seagull.   Sandpipers are proactive creatures – purposeful, intentional, focused, and hard at work.  With their long beaks, they were busy searching for food, scurrying around the beach, covering lots of territory.  The sandpiper is on a mission, and if I tried to get close, they just kept busy; going about their business.

In life, I have found it is critical to master the skills of the sandpiper – to be purposeful, intentional, and focused; not concerning myself with all the distractions and noise around me.

Here are some of the habits I have developed that are on par with those of the sandpiper.

  1. I set annual and quarterly goals for myself. Goals help me see the forest through the trees and ensures that I am headed in the right direction.
  2. I plan for the week before the week begins.  This is a practice I learned from Dr. Covey.  Planning ahead helps me prioritize each day and brings clarity when I have unexpected extra time.
  3. I use Evernote. This note-taking application syncs with my smart phone, iPad and computer and helps me to stay organized.
  4. I am an early riser. Each day, I get up at 5 a.m.  This time clear of life-s distractions allows me to obtain clarity and prepare for my day.
  5. I read good books regularly.  I normally read about two books each month, which keeps my  mind sharp and provides me new ideas.

Are you a Sandpiper or a Seagull?

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