“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men (women) stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV)
I am of the belief that in general, truly effective leaders are developed. Yes, some people innately have leadership abilities, but even in those instances a development process is still necessary. I also believe that there is a direct correlation between purpose and leadership. In fact, those traits that encompass true leaders must exist for anyone who successfully walks in their life’s purpose. Therefore, if you are to live a life of greatness and fulfill your purpose, it is vital that you understand and adopt these traits. They must become second nature, which only occurs through daily practice.
So let’s explore eight traits of eagles and effective leaders:
1. Faithfulness – Throughout the life of an eagle, it maintains a single home and a single partner. The eagle’s partner can trust and depend on it always being present, if alive. From a human perspective, true leaders are faithful – they are dependable and trustworthy. They do what they say they are going to do, period.
To master this trait, I encourage you to intentionally explore the areas of your life where you make commitments. Look at your commitment to exercising and eating healthy. Look at what you promise your children, spouse, partner, family, friends, co-workers, etc. Are you fulfilling on those promises? Can they trust and rely on your word? Where can you make adjustments so that whatever you commit to, you carry out every single time?
2. Focus – Once the eagle has selected its prey, it never loses focus of that prey. At that point, the prey is as good as dead. Successful leaders are focused on the task at hand. For them, it is a matter of life or death.
Looking inside your world, you may have to remove things from your plate that don’t advance your progress toward the vision. Depending on what you are eliminating, this may prove to be somewhat challenging. However, the goal is to remove the excess so that you are not distracted from those items that are important – leaving you free to focus on the vision.
3. Sharp Vision – Eagles have keen eyesight which enables them to spot and tune in on its prey from long distances. They rely on their vision to pinpoint prey from afar, so that they can attack before the prey even realizes it. Leaders must have vision. They must be able to clearly see where they are going, in order to create an effective game plan. Once the plan is in place, the leader attacks or executes the plan.
If you are not a planner – I highly recommend that you make planning a part of your life. Start small, maybe with something like creating a grocery list before going to the store and build from there. Eventually, you want to get to the point where you are planning just about every hour (if not all) of the day. What works best for me is to plan my upcoming week on Sundays. It gives me an opportunity to clearly manage my time effectively, ensuring that I accomplish everything that needs to be completed. The plan helps to give me direction and keep me focused on the vision.
4. Selective – Eagles are extremely selective in the prey they choose. They won’t eat prey that they didn’t kill; therefore, the prey must be alive, warm and active. True leaders search for and connect with people that can bring life into circumstances. They don’t hang around the walking dead – those that are negative, destructive, and going nowhere.
Set aside some time and take inventory of the people that are in your inner circle. What are they doing? Where are they going? What type of deposits are they making into your life – negative or positive? Once complete, you need to make some choices and accept that not everyone will be continuing on the journey with you. Please note that this is very important!!!
5. Courageous – Eagles are fearless creatures. They give no consideration to the size or strength of their prey. They will go up against animals that are considerably larger than them without any reservations. Leaders are not afraid to eat the elephant, instead they tackle it one piece at a time. They don’t let anything, including past failures, stop or slow them down.
Essentially, you must get to the point where you are comfortable and secure in who you are. Therefore, no matter what you come against – you are able to plunge forward without reservations or fear.
6. Persistence – Eagles have the ability to not only sense the arrival of storms, but use storms to lift them higher. Unlike other animals that run for cover as the storm approaches, eagles fly directly into the storm. They adjust their wings and allow the strong winds to carry them to greater heights. Essentially, they end up soaring above the storm. At some point, everyone will encounter storms in life. Often times, life’s storms have a tendency to slow most of us down or completely stifle us. Yet, leaders are able to cultivate the ability to ride the storms in our lives. We use them as tools for personal growth and development. Joyce Meyer’s stated it this way, “there is value in the storm.”
So the next time you find yourself in a storm, look for the value – and use it to enhance your positioning. Look at the storm as a stepping stone that takes you to the next level.
7. Nurturing – Although eagles are considered savage birds, they are excellent caregivers to their young. Mother eagles know the perfect time to train their young to fly. They fly high up with their young on their backs, then shifts from under them. The eaglets begin to fall straight down and begin to realize what their wings can do. The mother eventually swoops under the eaglets and repeats the exercise until the eaglet gets it. If the eaglet is a slow learner, the mother eagle places it back in the comfort of the nest, and then proceeds to ripe it apart leaving nothing for the eaglet to hold on to. Good leaders are able to effectively teach, train, motivate and encourage their organization. They prepare their team to fly solo and achieve greater heights.
8. Resilience – Approximately 30 years into the eagle’s life, its body has physically deteriorated. Calcification forms on its wings, slowing down its flight and speed. Its claws aren’t as flexible, hindering seizure of its prey. Its beck becomes dull, decreasing its power and ability to tear flesh for eating. Essentially, it’s no longer as effective. However as opposed to giving up and calling it quits, the eagle undergoes a painful transformation. It spends a considerable amount of time on the mountaintop literally tearing its body apart. It hits its beak against the rocks until the beak falls off and then proceeds to pull out all its claws and feathers. Each of the body parts grow back anewed and stronger, allowing the eagle to survive another 30 years.
Good leaders are also resilient and transformative. They are always seeking personal growth and development opportunities; whether that comes in the form of books, audios, seminars, conferences, etc. I once heard Myles Monroe state that he read four books every month. Now I know that may be extreme, but look at where he was positioned in life. Maybe you don’t tackle four books a month, but what about one book every month or every other month? What about tuning into educational programming and eliminating some or all of the useless entertainment programs? At the end of the day, the world is constantly changing and the level to which you grow and develop is completely up to you. As an effective leader, you don’t want to become obsolete.