The joy of watching turtles: lessons for leadership and life


In a fast-paced, competitive world, many people seem to be drawn towards sources of short-term media success that are mean-spirited, self-indulgent, or aggressive. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more inspired by “rocking chair” wisdom that comes from quiet contemplation and observation. Finding moments of serenity and reflection can be a rare and precious gift.

One such moment can be found in the simple act of watching turtles. We are fortunate here in Fayette County to have some great locations to watch turtles, and I’ll share some of those locations at the end of this article.

Turtles are ancient creatures, with their deliberate movements and unwavering determination, that offer valuable lessons that can be applied to leadership and life in general. Let’s consider the joy of watching turtles and how their characteristics can inspire and guide effective leadership and good living.

<b>Eastern box turtles spotted at The Ridge Nature Area in Fayetteville. Photo/Joe Domaleski</b>
Eastern box turtles spotted at The Ridge Nature Area in Fayetteville. Photo/Joe Domaleski

Patience and Perseverance: Watching a turtle gracefully glide through the water or slowly amble across land reminds us of the importance of patience and perseverance. In business and life, we all face numerous challenges and setbacks. Embracing the turtle’s approach can help one remain steadfast in their pursuit of success. Patience allows for thoughtful decision-making, while perseverance ensures that obstacles are met head-on and overcome.

Long-Term Vision: Turtles, with their remarkable lifespans, exemplify the value of a long-term vision. Leaders must cultivate a forward-thinking mindset, focusing not just on short-term gains but on sustained growth and impact. By emulating the turtle’s ability to see beyond immediate circumstances, leaders can make strategic decisions that have lasting benefits for their organizations and stakeholders.

<b>Mary Catherine Domaleski spots a baby turtle along Gingercake Creek. Photo/Joe Domaleski</b>
Mary Catherine Domaleski spots a baby turtle along Gingercake Creek. Photo/Joe Domaleski

Adaptability: Turtles have survived for millions of years by adapting to their environments. They can thrive both in water and on land, displaying remarkable adaptability. In the dynamic world of business, adaptability is a crucial trait for leaders. Adaptable leaders can navigate through changing market conditions, embrace new technologies, and respond effectively to unforeseen circumstances. Just as turtles adjust their movements to suit their surroundings, leaders must be willing to adapt their strategies to ensure continued success.

Slow and Steady Progress: The unhurried pace at which turtles move may seem contrary to the fast-paced nature of life. However, the steady progress they make serves as a reminder that success is not always achieved through rapid acceleration. Leaders should be cautious of rushing into decisions without considering the potential consequences. By taking measured steps and prioritizing quality over speed, leaders can build a solid foundation for sustainable growth and long-term success.

Balance and Self-Care: Turtles, whether basking in the sun or retreating into their shells, demonstrate the importance of balance and self-care. In the pursuit of goals, leaders often neglect their own well-being. However, taking time to recharge and nurture oneself is essential for effective leadership. By prioritizing work-life balance, cultivating healthy habits, and fostering a supportive environment, leaders can sustain their own well-being while nurturing the well-being of their teams.

So where are all the turtles in Fayette County? Here are some of my favorite places to see them:

  1. The Ridge Nature Area in Fayetteville: This is the absolute best place to see turtles in their natural habitat. The park is actually a turtle sanctuary, and researchers from Clayton State University even study turtles there. It is expertly managed and maintained by the City of Fayetteville and the Southern Conservation Trust.
  2. Flat Creek Nature Area Boardwalk in Peachtree City: This amazing place allows you to walk out almost half a mile into the heart of Peachtree City to see the wetlands of Flat Creek up close. This is the only structure of its kind and length in the county. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article the boardwalk has been closed due to storm damage. Hopefully, the city will repair it soon.
  3. Line Creek Nature Area in Peachtree City: This park is not just the namesake of a popular brewery; it’s a gem of a park that forms the natural border between Fayette and Coweta counties. This park is very popular with residents and visitors. There are lots of great turtle-watching opportunities here amidst the rapids, rocks, and even the old mill ruins of the Line Creek.
  4. Trilith in Fayetteville: Despite the hustle and bustle of the nearby movie studios and the Town of Trilith, there’s an impressive pond and natural trail network at Trilith. Although the pond is a great place to see turtles, there’s an even better spot along the short boardwalk on the nature trail at the east end of the property. From the boardwalk, you can see the wetlands that are part of Whitewater Creek.
    <b>A family of turtles at Sams Lake. Photo/Mary Catherine Domaleski</b>
    A family of turtles at Sams Lake. Photo/Mary Catherine Domaleski
  5. Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary south of Fayetteville: Nestled between busy Georgia Highway 85 and the less busy Old Senoia Road, this place has attracted bird watchers from all over the state. It’s also a fantastic place to see turtles, frogs, snakes (be careful), and even a beaver dam!
  6. Lake Horton in Brooks: A fantastic park to fish, it’s also a great place to see all kinds of wildlife and reptiles, including turtles. There’s even a small bamboo forest. Owned by Fayette County Water and managed by Fayette County Parks & Recreation, this is another great place for enjoying nature.

In the midst of a busy and chaotic world, finding inspiration in unexpected places can be transformative. It’s my hope that our community continues to preserve nature wherever and whenever possible. The joy of watching turtles allows us to reflect on the wisdom they embody and apply those lessons to leadership. By embracing patience, perseverance, adaptability, slow and steady progress, and a focus on balance and self-care, leaders can navigate the challenges they face with grace and poise. So, take a moment to observe the turtles and allow their wisdom to guide you on your leadership journey. If you see me at one of the area parks, please say hello.

[Joe Domaleski, a Fayette County resident for 25 years, is the owner of Country Fried Creative – an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Peachtree City. His company was the Fayette Chamber’s 2021 Small Business of the Year.  Joe is a husband, father of three grown children, and proud Army veteran.  He has an MBA from Georgia State University and enjoys sharing his perspectives drawing from thirty years of business leadership experience. ]