Why the Albatross?

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The Albatross is the largest sea bird in the world.  It spends at least 85% of its life away from land, either flying or resting on the surface of the sea.  They return to very specific areas of land only to breed and to raise their young.

I have a long standing affection for the Albatross and think it makes a great symbol for my goals for Coaching and Training.

I think of it as being incredibly relaxed in its environment.  It is in harmony  with the world around it.  It appears to be at peace with its place in the universe.  The Albatross knows that storms and sunshine are all part of the same system.  One will follow the other and there is no need to fear one or anxiously wait for the other.

It has a calm resilience that allows it to ride the waves and glide smoothly in balance with the natural forces around it.  It always moves forwards with what appears to be a balance of determination and contentment.  The Albatross does what it does best and doesn’t expend any mental energy trying to be dolphin or even a tree.

A large part of my life has involved the sea, and I see the Albatross as a strong symbol of the romantic pull I always feel towards the watery parts of our world.  It is also a very endangered animal, with threats to its food supply and breeding land. It is therefore a strong reminder of the responsibility that we have to be aware of the impact we have on the world we and others live in.

There is also sometimes a perception of the Albatross as a bad omen or as a curse or burden.  This is in part due to the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, in which a seaman kills an Albatross that is following his ship.  It was considered bad luck to kill an Albatross and his ship then encounters great misfortune.   The seaman is made to carry the dead bird around his neck as a penance.  I feel that that there is a lot of powerful Coaching value in the story.  The traditional thought is that the Albatross is bad luck, whereas the bird is actually just a beautiful creature; and it is our thoughts that generate the fear of bad luck.  In Coaching we talk about the thoughts which can generate negative feelings and work to reframe them as simple events.  We explore ways to move forwards, taking responsibility for our own futures and committing to simple actions.

 

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