Soaring as a Strength

I’ve been on holiday down in Florida this past week relaxing from my life while watching birds live theirs.

I’ve been particularly taken by the feeding behavior of pelicans. Pelicans are odd by design but graceful in achieving their primary goals, which are flying and feeding. With a wingspan of 6 feet, their awkward movements on land become poetry in the air. Gliding just a few feet above the water, they watch and wait until they find their prey and then, just at the right moment, plunge dive into the water, using the force of impact to stun their prey before shoveling their catch into their pouch.

It seems to me that while pelicans obviously work hard for their food, they are also opportunistic in finding the right size fish or school of fish before using their genetic strengths to secure their livelihood.

One of the greatest benefits of using our inherent strengths is that it leads to greater happiness or “subjective well-being.” Research from 2019 showed that people who use their natural talents experience an increase in positive emotions such as a feeling of zest for life, hope, creativity, curiosity, love and concern for self and others.

Using our strengths is an easy way to exploit the opportunities that are right in front of us. I often see people struggling to improve their weakest capabilities only to create frustration, aggravation, and oftentimes, failure.

Not much fun there.

Much better to be like the pelican and just soar above it all…that is, until you get hungry.

The Leadership Café

Mike Cherock is a good friend and fellow Leadership Pittsburgh colleague. He is a Navy veteran having served aboard US fast attack submarines.

 He is now the founder and President of AE Works, an architecture company that practices in planning + strategy, engineering, project services and security risk management to develop innovative, creative, and collaborative solutions to complex problems. 

In this episode, Mike tells the story of how AE Works became a blessing in disguise. Having been a start-up before the recession in 2007 located in Mike’s basement, he expanded the practice to three locations including Pittsburgh, State College and Arlington, VA. Though Mike claims himself to be an accidental CEO, he is happy and proud of what the company has become, spending every day solving complex building problems for government agencies such as the National Institute of Health and the Veteran’s Administration as well as privately held companies. 

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