The Albatross and Career Success

As you know, I’m always on the lookout for common sense career success advice that I can pass on to you in this blog.  I found some the other day in Cindy Yantis’s Thought Changer blog.  Cindy is a writer living in Los Angeles.  You can learn more information about her by visiting her web site  You should visit and “Like” her Facebook Page:

Recently, Cindy wrote a blog post about the albatross.  It is not only a great story, but one that contains terrific career advice.  I asked Cindy if I could report it here and she graciously agreed.  Check out this life and career success advice based on the albatross…

The albatross gets a bad rap. The oft-used reference to the bird is as a metaphor for carrying a heavy burden, “this (fill in the blank) is an albatross around my neck.”  Until ancient poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined this notion in his 1798 poem, the albatross was considered good luck by sailors when it followed their ship.  In the poem, a mariner shoots the albatross and as punishment his companions make him wear the dead bird around his neck until his death.

But, after recently watching the Discovery Channel’s incredible series “Frozen Planet” I’m thinking differently about the albatross.

You’d think it would be a breeze to be able to fly with an eleven-foot wingspan.  But, when a young albatross is on the ground it has an incredibly difficult time getting off the ground.  In fact, it takes literally weeks for him to figure out how to take flight.  WEEKS! He tries everything, running leaps followed by quick flapping of his gigantic wings, jumping off rocks and hills only to fall clumsily back to the ground.  Lots of trial and error. Lots of persistence and single-minded focus.

And, then one day when all of its painstaking preparation meets the opportunity of the right gust of wind, the albatross soars beautifully and effortlessly across the sea.  But, here’s the kicker: once he’s in his zone doing what he was meant to do he won’t set foot on land again for five years.

So, this magnificent creature that is literally built to fly like no other, has to figure it out.  With instinct and an innate knowing as his guides, he does it.

It got me thinking about how as magnificent human beings we already have all of the equipment under the hood necessary to do whatever we set our minds to do.  But, as multi-faceted freethinking spirits it’s so easy to let ego and a multitude of factors get in our way from meeting our true destinies.  Many times we focus on what we’re told we should be doing rather than what we’re meant to do, our true heart’s desire.

The albatross has a big mission in mind.  If he all of sudden decided he would rather be a whale or a polar bear (after all they eat fish too) then just think of the time and energy he would waste trying to fit into a mold where his big floppy wings will be seen as a flaw rather than the strength that they are.  Or if he tried to be another bird because he sees how much easier it was for them to fly.  I can imagine a hummingbird watching the albatross stumble to take flight and saying, “what’s the big deal, dude?” as it buzzes around above its head.

But no, the albatross has a big mission in mind and he knows he has all the equipment to get him there.

So, to my way of thinking the albatross has a few lessons he can teach us brilliant and often wayward humans:

 Know your strengths.  The albatross doesn’t focus on his weaknesses, but rather his strengths so that the weaknesses are but a hiccup along the way.

 Understand your equipment.  Know what your capabilities are and if you need to educate yourself to improve them, then do so.

 Keep your eye on the target.  Take the time to determine your life or career mission and then gear everything you do toward fulfilling that mission.

And, first and last, always –

 Follow your Instincts.  Listen to the signals your heart and body give you as you’re on your journey.  Your gut is usually right, even when your head tries to steer you. Follow your gut.

So, next time perhaps, rather than thinking of the albatross as a heavy burden holding you back, think of it as a guide to get you where you’re supposed to be.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense – especially what Cindy Yantis has to say about following your gut.  I’m a big believer in common sense.  I think that our common sense comes from our gut.  It’s that little voice that lets us know the right thing to do in a given situation.  Often we ignore it.   And that’s too bad – especially when it comes to figuring out what we want to with our lives and careers.

The first key to career success that I discuss in my latest book, Climbing the Corporate Ladder, is clarify the purpose and direction for your life and career.  Listen to your gut –- or your common sense — as you go about clarifying the purpose and direction for your life and career.  You’ll be happier and more successful if you do.

That’s the career advice I found in Cindy Yantis’ thoughts on the albatross.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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