The Seagull verses the Sandpiper

I just returned from vacation with my family.  We enjoyed  2 wonderful weeks on the beach at 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.  I had the opportunity to sharpen my mind and do some reading.  I read Dr Ben Carson, world renown Neurosurgeon’s,  new book “America the Beautiful.”  Fantastic and thought provoking read on the state of our nation.  I was also able to do a lot of cycling on the barrier islands of Sarasota which is one my favorite places to ride.

While we were away I was reminded of how important it is to get away and “Sharpen the Saw” as Dr. Stephen Covey would say. I was saddened to hear of the death of Dr Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people.  In 2005 I first read the 7 habits.  This book was the catalyst that developed my passion for leadership and began an exciting journey of self transformation.

I noticed an important leadership lesson as I watched the Seagull verses the Sandpiper.    The seagull’s are reactionary creatures.  They stand and stare at you watching, 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.

The Sandpiper on the other hand was much different than the seagull.   They are proactive creatures.  The sandpiper is very 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, be intentional, be focused, not to concern myself with all the distractions and noise around me.

Here are some of the practices I do on a regular basis to develop the characteristics of the sandpiper.

1.  I set annual and quarterly goals for myself, this helps me see the forest through the trees and be sure 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.  This helps my prioritize each day and brings clarity when I have unexpected extra time.

3. I use Evernote this syncs my smart phone, I-pad and computer and helps me stay organized.

4. I am an early riser, I get up at 5:00am.  This gives my the chance to obtain clarity and prepare for my day.

5. I read good books regularly.  I average 2 books a months.  This keeps my mind sharp and gives me new ideas.

 

Are you a Sandpiper or a Seagull?

4 Comments

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  1. Teri Ziegler July 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    I like your points here on the seagull vs the sandpiper. Never looked at them that way, but now will notice when I’m at the beach. Looking forward to my first session there tomorrow, and relief for my neck strain. And maybe some pointers on Evernote! Just started using it & I can see how it will help me be more organized. Your place looks wonderful Matt & Melissa! So happy for your success, Teri Z

    • Matthew Harkness July 31, 2012 at 4:44 am #

      Teri, We look forward to getting you some relief from your discomfort. We appreciate you choosing us we will do our best. We will discuss how evernote can be a useful tool with organization.

      Matt

  2. Dad July 31, 2012 at 3:36 am #

    Hey Matt – Glad you had some great R&R with MMIA&A and the rest of the family. I admire your focus and diligence in your daily living :-) Getting up at 5AM is a bit earlier than what we do, but not much. The only caution I think I would bring is early to bed, early to rise…means “out on the couch” when the rest of the family want to play :-} Doing it right really seems like the balance beam event at the Olympics!! You and Melissa do a great job. Love you.

    Dad

    • Matthew Harkness July 31, 2012 at 4:45 am #

      It’s always a pleasure to get comments from my biggest fan. You are correct after dinner I am pretty tired. Have a great week…..Your son.

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