Imagine a fairly deep narrow dark cave with one entrance
and exit into the warm sunshine. Imagine yourself just inside the entrance to the cave. Imagine a lion or other threatening wild animal standing outside the entrance to the cave. It knows you’re there.
You have a choice: face the animal, or creep further back into the cave. What are you going to do?
Loads of people come to Powerchange with this dilemma. It is not, of course, a wild animal that threatens them but some other uncontrollable threat: losing their home to debtors, bullying at school, at work, or in the community, rejection by someone important to them. What threatens you?
In the face of real danger of this kind, the desire to retreat into the cave is huge. Yet the further you retreat, allowing your fear to dictate your behaviour by pretending it isn’t there or hoping it will go away, the less options you have, until eventually the terror gets you. At the back of the cave you have nowhere to go.
The courage you need becomes available to you with every step you make TOWARDS your foe. Facing the challenge brings freedom, “…and if you fail, at least you fail whilst daring greatly,” as Roosevelt said in his famous speech in 1899. With every step you make towards the light your field of view widens, more opportunities come into view, and your mind comes more fully alive. You’ll learn things you can learn no other way. (And you’ll also see future dangers before they get so close.)
Today I have been coaching three different clients, one was frightened his business will fail, another was frightened her marriage will fail, and the third was frightened she will fail to handle the not insignificant challenges at work. For all three the issue is fear, not the lion.
In the famous work, Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan in 1678, his hero’s progress is challenged by two massive lions that bar his route. “Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back, for he thought nothing but death was before him.” As he is overwhelmed by the dread, into the scene comes a man who calls out “Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith, where it is, and for discovery of those that had none. Keep in the midst of the path, no hurt shall come unto thee.”
Maybe I’m that man for you today. “Keep in the midst of the path.” The rewards of victory go not to those who shrink back, but to those who step towards their fears, seeing them as an opportunity to live a better life, even though wounded. Trials strip away immaturity, highlight weaknesses so you can deal with them, strengthen your resolve, and toughen up your courage.
Like the traveller in Pilgrim’s Progress, keep to the centre of your path and prove that such lions are chained.
You won’t die.
But you will have stories worth telling your grand-children.