Water Wise: Being All In

Pelicans on the Neuse
Pelicans on the Neuse River

This time of year, we get a treat in our little corner of the Neuse River. The pelicans come to town. They actually visit three or four times a year, and June into July happens to be one of them. I don’t know why they show up when they do (perhaps they follow fish up the river?), I’m just happy to see them.

Prior to living on the Neuse, the only time I ever saw pelicans was at beaches. I always thought they were cool, but I never really paid too much attention to them because…well I was at the beach and there was lots of other stuff going on!

Anyway, the picture above is of several pelicans sitting on a dock nearby and I took the picture standing in the water with my phone (I’m clearly not a photographer). Now that they come to visit consistently, I’ve had the chance to hang out and observe them a bit. They are majestic birds. Powerful chests, huge wings, and they come in all kinds of colors and beaks. I don’t think I have seen any two pelicans that were close to identical. When they glide along the tops of the water at high speeds, they look a lot like the marine base jet fighters in miniature version.

They are clearly the big dogs of the river when they arrive. This dock is normally inhabited by many sea gulls, cormorants, ducks, geese, and sand pipers, but they all relinquish their poles and planks when the pelicans show up. The connection of the pelicans and the idea of “Being all in” is the way pelicans’ fish.

They fly above the water looking for fish (much like the osprey do, only not as high). When they spot one that looks like a tasty meal, you can see immediately what is going to happen. They turn their body into a missile and go straight down into the water, beak first, at full speed. When they hit the water, it explodes. It sounds like a teenager just did a cannonball off of a rope swing. After the water settles, you see the pelican bobbing on the water shaking their beak back and forth as they swallow their meal, or not shaking it because somehow the fish escaped, although I don’t see that happen very much.

The lesson here is the way the pelican goes after the fish. There is no hesitation at all. I’ve never seen a pelican stutter step (stutter fly?). The go for it or they don’t. They fully commit. When they decide to dive, there is no turning back, there is no second-guessing, there is no option but to follow through and explode into the water and all of their being is laser focused on their goal.

This is what the pelican can teach us. What desire/goal can elude you under the intensity of “no option” type commitment? I’ve spent more than half of my life now helping people who are trying to help themselves. Of the myriad of people I’ve trained, coached, and mentored, what differentiates the people who accomplished their goals from the ones that didn’t was relatively simple.

It is never skills or talent or resources that distinguish the achievers from those that fall short. It is always the unyielding commitment. It’s being ALL IN.

“I worked at it when I felt like it and became a huge success” said NO ONE EVER. “I gave it a half-hearted effort and got in great shape” said NO ONE EVER. “I gave part of myself and have the love of my life” said….NO ONE EVER.

I learned this lesson many moons ago. As a young person I was a quitter (I’m not going to get into why here, that is detailed in my book 3 Circles Living). Any time something got hard, I bailed. The problem with that of course, is that EVERYTHING of value that’s worth achieving, whether it’s a relationship, health/fitness, business, a cause, a heart pursuit, or anything else you can think of, is going to have great difficulty in the journey. That’s the price. That’s life.

I learned, that once you truly commit to do something, you are removing the option to not do it. You no longer make it subject to how you feel or circumstances. There are no excuses. Everything is simply part of your unique journey. No matter what, you show up consistently and take a step. You dial in like a pelican going after a meal. All in.

Is there something you have been delaying commitment in? Something you are not giving your all? Aren’t you tired of how THAT feels? GO. All. IN. Thank you for the lesson my pelican friends. I look forward to seeing you the next time you come to visit.

By Todd Burrier