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The Wisdom of Eagles: Mindfulness Lessons for Leadership and Life

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Did you know that Minnesota has one of the highest concentrations of eagles in the country? A few years ago, I had a chance to visit the National Eagle Center which is just south of Red Wing, Minn., and saw up close a few eagles that had been rescued by the Center and were being cared for in habitats without cages. I also had the opportunity there to observe a number of incredible eagles in the wild. The eagles migrate to an area directly across from the Center each year and can be seen clearly from the observation deck.

For many cultures and many individuals, there is a special attraction to this particular bird. And after spending an afternoon watching them and learning about them, it is easy to understand why this is so. Large, majestic beings, earthy-colored bodies, heads adorned with the whiteness of experience, they seem to possess an inherent wisdom and a knowing gaze. And, I learned that spending an afternoon observing them in flight is a great way to share in their wisdom.

Here are a few of the lessons I learned that afternoon -- lessons for leadership and lessons for life:

Eagle Wisdom

If you wish to see an eagle in flight, you must take the time to be thorough and look far beyond the places you might expect to see a bird in the sky. Eagles often soar at amazing altitudes and may even seem to disappear behind the highest clouds from time to time. So, lesson number one:

Sit, be patient and be open to exploring new heights.

When you find an eagle in flight, you quickly notice that eagles are masters of energy conservation. By completely spreading its wings and by paying careful attention to balance, it uses only a minimal expenditure of energy to remain aloft, moving at great speeds, buoyed by the natural currents of air, and trusting that the wind will carry it precisely where it needs to be. So, lesson number two: Stretch out fully, find your balance and let it unfold.

Finally, when you dedicate an afternoon to being with the eagles, you are likely to witness an eagle at play. Somehow even amidst the work to thrive in the wild, an eagle values play. Without warning, it will sometimes break from the expected trajectory of its flight path and cartwheel through the air, seemingly for no reason other than because it can. So, the final lesson of the day: Make time to be playful

Does the eagle's wisdom resonate with you?