I recently watched a video someone had shared on Facebook in which several penguins were standing in a huddle (or a colony, rookery or waddle I had to look that up). They are standing on a few feet of snow covered ground next to some sort of rocky ledge. Snowflakes are blowing around them. There is a smaller penguin out in front of the huddle on the open, snow covered ground. He is the focal point of the video because he is jumping around in an excited way that makes him look like a crazy little bird. He is so excited, flapping his wings, jumping all over the snow like he has never been more excited in his life. Maybe he is simply excited to be alive. Or maybe his excitement is because it is snowing. Or possibly he is happy to be with all of his penguin friends. Who knows why he is excited, but his excited behavior sure is making people smile.
I don't know how many people visit penguins at a zoo every year. I'm sure it is millions. Many take pictures and video of the penguins. There are people who take pictures of their children standing in front of the penguins. There are people who take video of their friends mimicking penguins in front of the real penguins. So why don't we see thousands, or even a small fraction of these penguin pictures and videos go viral? Why aren't most penguin pictures shared thousands of times on Facebook? What is the difference between this video and the hundreds of other penguin pictures and videos that people have taken?
The difference is that one penguin. Watching him jump around and flap his wings in what appears to be great excitement while the other penguins look on is amusing. It is a cute video. It puts a smile on a viewer's face. All it took was one little penguin that appears to be the happiest creature alive for this video to attract the attention of hundreds of thousands of people.
Are you the little penguin in any part of your life? Are you so passionate about anything that your dedication and excitement about it could make it go viral? Just like it only took one penguin out of thousands that have been in pictures and videos to make the video go viral, it only takes one person's excitement to get a project rolling and to gather followers. Passion and dedication like that are contagious.
In looking a little more into the video, I learned that the jumping penguin is actually what's called a Rockhopper Penguin. They are built to maneuver on rocky terrain by jumping. The other penguins in the video are a different kind of penguin that does not jump around. Some might say that my point is invalid at this point because the little guy was just doing what he was born to do. But I would say that helps further illustrate my point. He was among a dozen or more other penguins that were just standing there, but he didn't care. He hopped around anyway.
So let me ask you again, are you that little penguin in any part of your life? Do you do what makes you happy and what you are passionate about, even when there are others just looking on? Do you do what you are born to do, even when it isn't what others approve of? You are meant to do something special and it may be different than what others are passionate about. Discover what that is and you can be that happy little penguin that gets things done and makes others smile.
One little guy with lots of energy was the difference between no views and thousands of views for that video. It's not so different from the difference between the success and failure of a project. It just takes one person and anyone can be that person. If something interests you and you have passion for it, you can, and should, be the one who makes something happen. Why not? You can be the one who makes the difference and turns an everyday, usual project into a tremendous success with viral power.
On a side note, if you are curious about the video, it is on www.myamazingearth.com and is called The Happiest Penguin Ever.
Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.