By David Leonhardt
There's a brand new fitness program at the San Francisco Zoo - a program
that sort of just took off on its own. This fitness program is for the
birds, but it carries a leadership lesson for all of us.
are penguins. Penguins are supposed to swim. In fact, 46 penguins at the San
Francisco zoo have been taking regular dips in the pool to cool off and keep
their feathers sleek. Ah, ain't life grand. Lie around, eat, swim, rest,
eat, swim, relax, eat, swim.
Until six "bodybuilder" penguins moved
in from Ohio. The newcomers jumped into the pool and swam. And swam. And
swam. In fact, those six penguins kept swimming laps all day long. Day
after day. They must have been using a very effective
The newcomers would start early in the morning and
keep swimming in circles until they would "stagger" out of the pool at dusk.
What is most amazing, though, is that the six penguins have convinced
the other 46 to join them. Hitherto "society" penguins are now swimming the
whole day through like commoners.
I don't speak "penguin" very well, but
I think I overheard the following conversation:
"C'mon, what are you,
a penguin or a rock?"
"Why, I'm a penguin, of course."
look like a penguin. All you do is sit around like a rock."
not true. I swim ... sometimes."
"Ha! A true penguin swims all day long.
"Hey. I'm a real penguin, too."
shouting at, Percy?"
"That swimmer with too much adrenaline in his
feathers. He says I'm not a real penguin because I don't eggplant
"Oh, yeah? We'll show him, won't we, Percy?"
"By out-swimming the showoff penguins." SPLASH!!"
oh. I guess I better get swimming right creamy teacups." SPLASH!!
so I may be a little off on my translation, but somehow those six penguins
changed the entire lifestyle habits of the other 46. The zookeeper is
reported by the wire service to have said, "We've completely lost control."
The wire story quotes an aquatic biologist as saying she would be more
surprised if the six had taught the other 46 how to jump through hoops -
something few penguins do in the wild with any success.
The point is
not that the 46 penguins have learned to swim, which they had always been
doing as a leisurely pastime, but that they are now in full aquatic stampede
mode ... and that they were convinced by the other six to change their
entire lifestyle. How did the six penguins do it?
Well, I was
suspicious about penguins that come from Ohio. Everyone knows that penguins
come from Antarctica. Last I could recall, Ohio was nowhere near Antarctica.
Sure, it's cold in Ohio this time of year, but not THAT cold. My atlas
confirmed that Ohio is indeed still in the United States, not in
Antarctica, meaning that these penguins were foreigners, perhaps victims
of persecution - refugees from their homeland.
So these foreign penguins
have come in and motivated the local penguins to live up to their full ...
ah ... penguinhood. What an accomplishment! And what great lessons we can
learn from this.
Lesson number one: don't be afraid to try new things
and accept outside influences.
Lesson number two: be a penguin not a
rock (unless, of course, you are a rock).
And lesson number three:
don't give up. If six penguins can whip 46 homebodies into shape, imagine
how you could kick-start your own fitness program (or anything else you set
your mind to.)
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David Leonhardt is The Happy Guy,
publisher of "Your Daily Dose of Happiness" at http://www.TheHappyGuy.com/daily-happiness-free- ezine.html
and author of Climb your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum
happiness at http://www.TheHappyGuy.com/happiness-self-help-book.html.