Motivational Monday Vol. 13

I received an email on Friday from a friend with a beautiful article about flocks of birds and why they fly in a V formation. I loved the way the author, Madisyn Taylor, described the V: 

Pushing steadily forward, this aerodynamic V reduces air resistance for the whole flock. With wings moving in harmony, the feathered group continues its course across the sky, covering more ground together in community than as individuals. When the bird at the front gets tired, she will move to the rear of the formation where the wind drag is lowest, and a more rested bird can take her place.

Her note struck me particularly hard on Friday as I took some time to reflect on the idea of our own flocks and just how important it is to have one, to choose wisely who you allow in and also for yourself to show up as an equal participant - to add value to that flock.

I've always prided myself on being independent and creating "my own" opportunities and accomplishments. Yet reflecting back over the past 18 months of my life - and of course my entire life - it so clear how supported I was/am/will continue to be by my own flock. Without such support many of these opportunities and accomplishments would cease to exist.

I've touch upon this in previous MM notes, but 2019 for me felt like the Universe, God, or whatever you like to call your higher power was aggressively shaking me, yelling "Taylor, this is no longer working and if you're not going to listen to ALL the signs I'm sending you, then I'm just going to have to burn it all down to get your attention!" And burn it down she did. 

Last Fall was the lowest, smallest, most broken I have ever felt in my life - I had been leaning in and charging forward for so long that when I finally looked up I just sort of fell apart. And it was in those humbling moments, when I felt more alone than ever, that my flock swooped in to continue to carry me when I no longer could.

I remember feeling astonished and so grateful for the people in my life who stepped up, who held space for me to not only feel my emotions but also to lift me forward, inch by inch.

Not just friends and family, but my work family. I'll never forget the moment I called my right hand girl, Meagan, and told her about my breakup. She knew how challenging the year had been and without skipping a beat she replied "Taylor, stop worrying about work. I've got this, we've got this. Take all the time you need, don't check your email. Just focus on you - I promise we can carry this for you.

After years and years of resisting help from others, I finally surrendered and let myself fall to the back of the flock, allowing someone else to take over to coast on the wings of those I trusted while I put myself back together.

I realize now what I was really doing was finally allowing myself to be vulnerable. And I truly think that it was in that vulnerability, a new version of myself was reborn. Or maybe it wasn't a new version at all, just a more true, raw version of myself - a version no longer covered up with armor or a mask, not trying to be tough or outwork a problem - just me in all my authenticity. 

In the months following, I worked on surrounding myself with people whose energy helped to inflate, not deflate me. Individuals who had the mindset to move us (the flock) forward. I also quite quickly realized the people in my life whose negative mindset could drag us down or who were simply nowhere to be found when I needed them. I identified, took note, and decided to no longer put energy there because holding space for those individuals wasn’t going to ease my flight and I was determined to not go backwards.

I realize now that I was selectively picking my flock and while it may be smaller now than it may have been in my 20s, it was f*cking strong. I certainly cannot stress this enough - as a social person with many “friendly acquaintances,” quality over quantity is all that matters here. As long as they are strong, you only need a few people in your flock to soar!  

You see, flocks work together in a way that functions as a single unit, like one living, breathing organism. Each bird must do their part to sustain the rhythm and harmony of the V. If you have one off bird, one member who never seems to pull their weight, the V simply doesn’t work - the air resistance increases on the other birds forcing them to work harder. They cannot cover as much distance and their destination is more challenging to reach - should they be able to reach at all.

This is the same for the humans you surround yourself with. You should be guarding the door to your flock ferociously. Whomever you let in you must trust to lead you through a battle or when rest is needed.

And even more so, we must recognize that just as that your flock members are there for you - you must be there to support them. You better dig deep on the daily to show up for your flock, regardless whether it's your time in front, in the middle or behind. Nurture and care for your flock the way you hope to be cared for when you stumble. You never know when you're going to need one of them to take the lead for you so you can lick your wounds and find refuge in the loving shelter of their wings. 

My question for you today is, do you know who’s in your flock? Can you identify 2-4+ individuals that you know you can lean on to lead when you’re tired or wounded?

Or do you have individuals in your flock currently who are draining its energy and not holding their own? If so, how can you distance them from your flock? I realize this may be a family member or even a partner and “removing” them is not an option, but how can you create a boundary to have them in your life but not necessarily in your core flock?

Most importantly, some time to reflect on how you are showing up for your flock - are you bringing a positive, forward thinking mentality? Are you holding space for others when they need a reset? Are you inspiring them when they need a boost forward?

I challenge you this week to invest in, nurture and show up for your flock - I challenge you to steer your flock to greater heights when it’s your turn in the lead.

Once you’ve identified your flock members, take a few minutes to be grateful for their friendship and then reach out to them individually - could be a short text, a phone call, a voice note - and just tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Express how amazing of an individual they are and how much you value their friendship.

Try to make a habit of doing this periodically for no other reason then you never know when you may not have the chance to tell them how much they mean to you. Love and gratitude should always be expressed outwardly - it’s something to be shared and savored, not locked away in your mind.
I'll leave you with this: “Feel the strength of others moving alongside you, as their presence lends power to your wings during this journey across the sky of life.” -Madisyn Taylor

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