Life and Leadership Lessons from the Eagle

Eagles are amongst the most amazing creatures that God created. They have been noted in literature as old as the bible as symbols of strength, bravery and courage. In Isaiah 40:31 it is said that “…those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

So what does this have to do with life and leadership skills? This is my story.

For us to live long lives, we need constantly to change the way we live. Change is needed in order to survive; to get rid of old memories, habits and other past traditions; and to be free from past burdens. In 2004 I put aside my corporate career when I received a calling from God to be an eagle. It was a natural transition from working with many different people in many different work and life situations to becoming a developer of people into executive leadership roles – or mentoring those who had already achieved great leadership heights.

After managing my own executive coaching business for 15 years, I was tired and had become unsure of my purpose. Then I received a reminder from Him to look towards the eagle for a lesson in rest and renewal. I believe that whenever God gives you a specific analogy, what He wants you to do is to look into what the analogy is all about so that you can fully understand what He is trying to convey to you.

First, I had to understand that eagles are visionary and full of life, but they need to find time to look back at their lives and re-energise themselves. When an Eagle grows old, its feathers become weak and cannot take it as fast as they should. When it feels weak and about to die, it retires to a place far away in the rocks. While there, it plucks out every feather on its body until it is completely bare. It stays in this hiding place until it has grown new feathers, a process which takes about 150 days. After this, the Eagle can take its famous flight of rebirth and live for 30 more years.

It became clear to me that we occasionally need to shed old habits and items that burden us without adding to our lives. In January 2019, I started my renewal transformation, preparing myself to continue life as an eagle.

5 tips for living the Eagle Lifestyle

  1. Visionary. Eagles have strong vision which comes from taking the time to reflect and listen, looking and seeing clearly the reality and the future long before the chickens have spotted it. Look ahead in your life to anticipate what’s to come and change course if necessary. This is obvious, but rarely practised. To do it, just get out a piece of paper and write down where your current flight path will take you in three years, what life you’d like to have in three years, and what realistic changes you could make to bring you closer to the latter.
  2. Situationally aware. With strong eagle eyes, looking ahead is easy and timing is critical. To create a solution to a problem happens fast and implementation is immediate with passion. Be versatile by looking for different types of opportunities. Don’t be so fixated on one particular path that you miss a better route in front of you. Perseverance is crucial for success, but so is adaptability and awareness of your environment. Don’t be afraid to reposition yourself if an opportunity looks attractive to you.
  3. Tenacious. Being in front of the next new thing takes vision, power, energy and hard work. Observe and learn from the people around you. Look at the ones who have the skills, positions, and even objects you desire. Don’t be jealous of them, be intensely curious about them. How did they do it? What is it they’ve done that you haven’t? Observation is one of the most powerful ways to learn, and it’s a skill! The more you do it, the better you’ll become!
  4. Inquisitive. A true leader spends time with people who are vibrant and liberal in thinking. You have to be with people who can think, make informed decisions and take actions. These are the people who bring changes to society. They are lively and active people. Go out and look for them.
  5. Fearless. Lastly, watch an eagle when a storm comes. When other birds fly away from the storm with fear, an eagle spreads its mighty wings and uses the current to soar to greater heights. The eagle takes advantage of the very storms that lesser birds fear and head for cover. Challenges in the life of a leader are many. These are the storm we must face as leaders to rise to greater heights. Like an eagle, a leader can only rise to greater heights if he takes up the challenges head on without running away from them.

Strength, bravery and courage are what people use to describe eagle people who go high up into the air to get distance to see clearly the target or focus area. Due to the intensity of the type of work I do, it was imperative that I refresh and renew myself – similar to the eagle’s 150-day transformation process. As an eagle, I took approximately five months to remove the old and to replace it with new claws, beak and feathers – in other words getting rid of old ideas, methods, ways and memories that did not serve me anymore. It was more than worth the investment of time, resources and emotions. With each month that passes, it is becoming easier to adjust to getting rid of the old and to have the patience to wait for the growth of the new. Pulling out the old was very painful; yet I was never alone, with God ever-present by my side to remind me that everything is possible in His name.

5 thoughts on “Life and Leadership Lessons from the Eagle

  1. As much as I know your story, reading it has reminded me to have a renewed sense of purpose. Thank you Annatjie for the inspiration once again.

  2. I also want to be an Eagle – I sometimes think at my age(58) I am too old to fly and too fixed in my ways. But clearly if I use these 5 tips provided, I’m quite sure I will start growing new and stronger wings. Seeing only one set of footprints from high in the sky – clearly means that someone has been carrying me fro some time now. Luckily I know who this is as I have met with him before.

  3. Woaw, woaw, woaw. Beautiful writting, I could imagine the eagle plucking its feathers. Such powerful words. After reading this, I felt reenergised and full of strengths. Congratulations, looking forward to read a book….

  4. Beautiful story to share Annatjie. You are blessed that you are so in tune with what God is doing in your life. That way no matter how painful the process maybe, you are able to wait with hope knowing that He who began a good work in your life is faithful to bring to pass!
    He never leaves us nor forsake us! Here is to new life🙏

  5. Annatjie, I have worked under your supervision and learnt from the best of the best. Now you set the example once again:

    “Change is needed in order to survive; to get rid of old memories, habits and other past traditions; and to be free from past burdens.”

    Thanks for honestly sharing deep emotions..

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