Building From Passion and Constancy of Purpose

"Clyde Peeling became interested in reptiles at age twelve. As a teenager, growing up in rural Pennsylvania, he maintained a personal collection of live reptiles and worked at a private reptile zoo. In 1964 he opened Reptiland in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, beginning a life-long pursuit of his boyhood dream. " — From: Reptiland: How a Boyhead Dream Became a Modern Zoo

This past weekend, I went to Retiland for perhaps the eighth time with my son Jacob. We go to see the alligators, the snakes, the frogs, the Komodo dragons and a host of other wonders of our world. This trip was especially fun as the parakeet house was especially lively with very friendly parakeets of many colors. At one point Jacob was laughing as seven of them were perched on him, some trying to get into his pockets.

I was reminded of three critical leadership points as we watched the shows and talked all the passionate people working on that day.

  1. It starts with passion. Clyde Peeling, the founder of Reptiland, was passionately interested in reptiles since age twelve. He opened a small private zoo in 1964. Over the years it grew into a world-acclaimed zoo.
  2. Constancy of purpose is key. The founder kept the zoo growing through many adventures. All the people that I have met that work at the zoo share the passion, the joy and that same constancy of purpose of the founder.
  3. Expand from the original core product. It is okay that parakeets are not reptiles. The focus on Reptiland is reptiles. And yet, one of the key things they have demonstrated with their leadership is that it is okay to expand beyond your original focus if you stay true to your real core mission. In their case, that constancy of purpose is beyond just "reptiles." The real mission is spreading joy and knowledge of the living being we share the planet with.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
ALAN WILLETT