While out walking the dog in the cold, quiet morning air I listened to the melodious sound of chirping as my feathered friends readied themselves for nearing spring. In the distance I heard the clamor of birds heading our way. A flock in formation is one of my favorite sights to see, and I am always amazed at the splendor of the pattern they create and maintain. The noise is astounding at times as the lead bird seems to call to the others within the group.

I could hear them approaching from behind and was surprised to look up and find that there were only two, one bird in front and another to the left. What struck me was that the lead bird cried out with the spirit of a warrior, as if it had fifteen other birds behind that needed to hear him. He treated the leadership of just one other bird with equal importance.

The second bird to the left kept his proper place in formation neither inching closer or falling farther behind, as if the other birds were somehow invisible and filling the rest of the formation. The tenacity, speed and purpose these two birds flew with was amazing to see.

Since I am not a bird, I can’t comment on the particular circumstance they faced. Were they separated from the original group and trying to catch up? Had the group disbanded in some unexpected way or with intention? Or, were these two birds simply “it” from the start of their journey? Regardless of what the circumstance was, the birds pressed on as if everything was completely normal.

There were no visible signs of fatigue, fear or discouragement, just determination. With only two to rotate, you would think that they could fly side by side, split up, or maybe sit in a tree and rest a bit. Instead they remained true to what has worked for migrating birds throughout the existence of the species; flying in ‘V’ formation to catch the preceding birds’ air and conserve energy for the rest of the journey.

When birds stay in the draft zone behind one another, they each get a boost and well needed lift. They flap with proper timing in a synergistic way to ensure that every bird benefits from the up and down drafts, spending equal time in each other’s wake and taking turns in the lead position. They think in terms of the collective whole.

There will be times when we can move forward with the synergy and energy of a group to assist us with momentum. We may make great strides in life during these seasons both personally and professionally. What distinguishes a true leader and team player is when you find yourself with just a wing-man, or perhaps even all alone.

Will you call out and lead as if the whole world can hear you? 

Will you remain in proper formation, maintaining the speed and momentum needed to lead a group even in the absence of one? 

Will you stick with your team, family, tribe, and friends when suddenly it seems as if only a few of you are attempting to make the same headway as 200?

I have the utmost belief that those two birds will make it to where they need to be with or without the flock, simply by the demonstrated behavior as they flew overhead calling out to the empty sky as if to say “Carry On!”.

There are many examples of leadership, collaboration, dedication and endurance within nature. The universe has a way of showing us things through what we love most if we have the open eyes and minds to see them.

Birds of a feather do truly stick together.