January 28, 2008

Good day, team,

On a recent weekend up at our ranch in the Columbia River Gorge, my husband and I observed one of nature’s most amazing phenomena, when, early one morning, we took a walk to the far north end of our property.

From the edge of a cliff we looked out over a spectacular sight: The Klickitat River running down in the valley below and emptying its cold, clear water into the Columbia River, after which it runs through the magnificent contours of the Gorge out to sea. There are sheer, sculpted rock walls, lined by waterfalls and cascades, that rush into the river. Below us, we could see the creek that runs through our property and pools in a shallow lagoon before it meets the Klickitat.

We scrambled down the hill, moved closer to the lagoon, and were rewarded for our efforts by the sight of large salmon spawning at the mouth of the creek. We sat to watch this ancient ritual, honored to witness the end of the salmon’s long journey up river to lay their eggs in a safe place and then die. Majestic birds sat in the surrounding trees—bald eagles, blue heron, and golden eagles—waiting patiently, knowing that when the salmon finally lay to rest on the lagoon floor, they could swoop down and feast on the remains.

I watched the large salmon use their powerful tails to groom the creek bottom before laying their eggs, exhausted but still energetic. I admired their fortitude, their dedication to ensure the survival of their species.

Why do these fish have such an arduous migratory pattern? They make their way out to sea to feed and gather strength, then have to swim all the way back upstream through many hazards—hydroelectric dams, pollution, fishing nets—to their birth place on a final mission to spawn and die.

Watching them reminded me of the many times in my life that I’ve had to struggle and persevere to achieve my goals in the face of great obstacles. Going with the flow is good advice in many cases. But there are times when we need to borrow some courage and strength from our salmon friends and swim upstream as hard as we can. Think about the times when, under extremely difficult circumstances, people have had to fight for their land, their freedom, their lives. Just like the salmon swimming against the current, we do what we have to do to survive.

Your challenge this week is to identify where you’re swimming upstream and recommit to achieving your goals. In the salmon’s case, their goal—to keep their species alive—means paying the ultimate price. In your case, perhaps you’re working with a team unable to achieve their objectives, forcing you to find new ways to re-energize them. Maybe you struggle to help a sick family member navigate through their health-care options. Or perhaps your boss is asking you to achieve a seemingly insurmountable task and you must nonetheless realign your priorities and push on.

Whatever the issue, take a lesson from the salmon, who courageously take on some of nature’s most powerful forces to reach their goal.

Have a great week!


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