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Leadership lessons from a sea turtle

In September 2012, during a visit to Mt. McKinley in Alaska, I got into a whimsical discussion with a local guide about what leadership advice a mountain might offer, if it could speak. Just recently, during some “up close and personal” swimming time with green sea turtles in Hawai’i, I somehow ended up in a similar conversation –what leadership advice would sea turtles give us, if they could talk? What leadership lessons can we learn from turtles?  Here’s my list:

  • Swim with the current (instead of against it)
  • Be open to alternate journeys; they may take you to better feeding grounds
  • Remember to come up for air
  • When you’re in deep and the pressure is heavy, stay calm and swim to the surface
  • Navigate your way through stormy waters
  • Each day is only one small step in a lengthier journey – think long-term
  • Take time to rest on the beach!

So what would you add to my “leadership lessons from a sea turtle” list? Please share by Commenting below.


  • My only off the cuff remark is, it is often good to swim against the current. It is good for toughening you up.

    Just be pretty sure you are right.

    • Ha, good one Terry! But you don’t want to do it so often that you’re exhausted. 🙂

  • I like the ones presented and would also offer this one…..

    In order to move forward towards your goal, don’t hide your head inside your shell.

    • Yes, perfect one for a turtle!! Taking it further, how about “Sometimes you have to stick your head out and take a risk”?

    • That’s right Bob, the ocean is teeming with other aquatic life — imagine how much we could learn from each other!

  • Hang around the waterfall. You might be surprised at what that will stir up (learned from a sea turtle in Waikoloa)

    • You’ve been swimming with sea turtles too, I see Rick! They’re pretty amazing, aren’t they? But to go back to your lesson, I think the key here is that you want to seek out the turbulence, kind of like what Terry suggested earlier in this thread when he said that you should swim against the current. Because it’s in times of challenge that we sometimes make the greatest breakthroughs!


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