For the past two years, I’ve made the trek to Kearney, Nebraska to experience one of nature’s most inspiring sights, hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes migrating north. Every year over 80% of the world’s population of sandhill cranes converge on the Platte River Valley in Nebraska to rest and refuel for the remainder of their trip home. Originating in Mexico, Texas and New Mexico, some cranes continue to fly on as far as Canada, Alaska and Siberia before stopping to breed.
This photo is from my trip last year and it reminds me of the profound experience I had the first time I saw the cranes take-off.
I was up before dawn, standing in a blind that provided little shelter from the wind, fingers frozen trying to hold my camera steady, anxiously awaiting the first light to illuminate the sleeping cranes 20 feet in front of me. The river is only an inch or two deep in some areas and the birds spend the night standing in the icy water for protection. As the sun rises, so do these beautiful birds, and some begin moving around interacting with other cranes. Most stand with their heads tucked across their back and under their wing trying to stay warm. A few fly off over then next hour, but much of the group (thousands) stay in place…waiting.
And so I too wait in the below freezing blind, watching and taking photos. No one is quite sure when the cranes will take off to head for area farms to feed on the left-over corn in the fields. In the distance, I can hear cranes calling, the sound starting to build as they come closer to our location. The sky begins to fill with cranes and the ones in front of me are all on alert now, heads up in unison.
As the flock flies over us, the cranes below take off as one. Their sound fills the air and I’m filled with a powerful emotion. It’s an amazing sight and it inspires and humbles me in a way that only nature can. Within minutes the cranes are gone and the river is once again empty.
As leaders, we’re expected to inspire others, move them to do greater things. It’s not possible to inspire others unless you are truly inspired yourself. You need to be seeking people and experiences that inspire you; ones that remind you of man’s infinite potential, the possibility of miracles, and that you’re part of something much greater than yourself.
I can always count on nature to fill my inspiration tanks. What inspires you?