Optimize Your Energy: A Lesson from a Green Sea Turtle
Sometimes major life lessons come from the most unlikely of sources; like a green sea turtle.
One day I was snorkeling off the coast of Hawaii. The trip had already been spectacular and as I looked down, I saw a large green sea turtle. This was the first time I had ever seen one in the wild, so I was ecstatic.
He was swimming away from the shore and to my surprise, although he appeared to be moving pretty slowly, sometimes paddling his flippers and other times just floating in the water, I soon found that I couldn’t keep up with him.
After about ten minutes, he lost me. Tired, disappointed, and a little embarrassed that I couldn’t keep up with a turtle, I returned to shore.
The next day I returned to the same spot with the hope of seeing more turtles. Sure enough, after about thirty minutes, there was another one. I watched him for a while as he paddled around the coral and then I tried to stay with him. Once again, I was surprised to find I couldn’t keep up.
When I realized he was pulling ahead of me, I stopped paddling and just floated on the top and watched him. It was at that moment when I learned a major life lesson.
The turtle linked its movements to the movements of the water. When a wave was going toward the shore, and in the face of the turtle, he would float and paddle just enough to hold his position. When the pull of the wave was back out to the ocean, he would paddle faster, so that he was using the movement of the water to his advantage. The turtle never fought the waves, but instead used them.
The reason I had not been able to keep up with him was because I was paddling all the time, no matter which way the water was going. At first this was fine and I was able to stay with him. I even had to slow my paddling sometimes. But the more I battled against the incoming waves, the more tired I became. Pretty soon, I didn’t have enough energy to take advantage of the waves that were going out.
The turtle didn’t have this problem. While I became more fatigued and less effective with each wave that came in and went out, he kept optimizing his movements with the movements of the water and therefore had plenty of energy.
We face a similar struggle in our everyday lives only the incoming and outgoing waves aren’t composed of water. The incoming waves are the people, activities, and things that don’t support what we want out of life. The outgoing waves are the people, activities and things that do.
In the ocean, I wasted my energy by paddling against the incoming waves and then didn’t have strength to achieve what I really wanted to do. If we’re not careful, we can make the same mistake in life. We can waste so much time and energy on things other people want us to do - or just on random things - that we don’t have the time or energy to experience or achieve what we really want.
So the next time you answer the phone, open your mailbox, or click on something in your inbox, ask yourself, “Is this an incoming wave item or an outgoing wave item?”
If you keep that thought in mind you’ll find you become much more selective about how much “paddling” you do and for what reason. And you’ll owe it all to a green sea turtle.
John P. Strelecky is the author of “The Why Café” and an inspirational speaker. Visit his website www.whycafe.com or e-mail him at email@example.com