Over the millennia on the African savanna, lions have developed a hunting technique. The oldest lion in the pride is often infirm. She is a great-grandmother. She has lame legs, rotten teeth, a scabby coat. She cannot hunt. But she still has lungs and can still give a deep-throated, primeval roar.
When the pride spots a herd of antelope, she heads into the tall grass while the rest of the pride spreads out in the bush in the opposite direction. The old lion roars. The antelope instinctively gallop away from the roar and slam right into the string of younger lions.
The antelope should have run toward the roar. To survive this kind of attack, they would have to confront the instinct to flee from their worst enemy. They would have to confront their fears head-on.
Coach Paul Assaiante is the winningest coach in the history of college sports. His teams have won 12 straight national championships. In intercollegiate match play, they are 224-0. That’s right, zero losses. Undefeated. Coach, as he’s known, clearly knows something about helping his players overcome their fears – and the best efforts of their opponents to defeat them.
What do you fear?
Not closing enough new business? Losing your job? Making cold calls? Making a mistake that damages a client relationship? Doing something embarrassing in a pitch? Damaging your reputation?
As this in the time of year when New Year’s resolutions are made (and hopefully not forgotten too quickly), it’s a great time to consider what you fear most. And work to overcome it.
The normal reaction of people on an off the athletic field is to fear matches, contests, performances. Practices are easy. It is the public recital that is unpleasant. They turn from the challenge and thereby run into the proverbial young lions of mediocrity, underachievement, and, ultimately, failure. My biggest challenge as an educator is helping my athletes conquer their fears, their anxieties, and their worst nightmares. In moments of tension and crisis – when the lion roars – I teach them to understand that safety is actually found in moving forward. There is just an old lion lying in the grass, familiar, toothless, and unthreatening.
I recall a former sales person who worked for me years ago. As a single person caring for her elderly mother, she feared not being able to pay her mother’s medical bills. Once this fear was revealed in a one-on-one meeting, we were able to boil her average day down to one number: three. She needed just three substantive conversations with prospects a day and her fear would be gone. She could then work worry-free: her sales funnel would be full, sales would result over time, and she’d earn the money she needed. Rather than run away from the lion, she faced it, embraced it. And became one of the top three sales people in a 200-person sales organization.
Our fears – our lions – can be overcome!