Do any of the following sentences resonate with you?
- You go 80 MPH when other people travel at the speed limit.
- Everyone asks, "why?" and you only ask "why not?"
- Your audacious goals make people look at you in both awe and fear.
- You love to push past the limits that other people set. You really love to push past your self-imposed limits.
- You say, "Hold my beer!" when someone says, "That's impossible!"
- You sometimes overshoot the mark when you deploy your considerable power.
- You've been described as a bull in a china shop. Frequently. You break some really ugly china and accidentally break the good stuff, too.
Me, too. Me, too.
It's an easy way out to sideline people like us. Most people believe that we've nothing important to say, that we may just like the sound of our own voice and the thrill of our own power. The truth is we have a tremendous capacity to have an outsized impact on everyone when we learn how to connect powerfully with others.
Lessons from Aesop
Do you remember Aesop’s story of Androcles and the Lion?
Once there was an escaped slave named Androcles who ran into the forest to get away from the guards chasing him. In his desperate search for a hiding place, he came upon what looked to be a fearsome lion which made him turn tail (pardon the pun) and head in the opposite direction.
And yet, there was something about the lion that made Androcles turn around and approach. As he got close, the lion extended his paw which was swollen and bleeding. Androcles soon saw a thorn that was the cause of the lion’s pain. He removed the thorn and wrapped the lion’s paw so that it would heal. Afterward, the lion took care of Androcles and every day brought him meat to live.
The story goes on about Androcles’ and the lion’s eventual capture and how Androcles’ sentence for escaping was a public spectacle in an arena. He would be thrown to that very same lion he healed and befriended for the lion to kill. When the lion was released into the arena, it ran in and roared. The lion stopped in its tracks because it recognized Androcles. Instead of attacking, he fawned over him.
The point is that you don't have to change who you are. You're not broken. You can’t turn a powerful lion into a docile sheep. It’s just not possible. What you can do is to remove the thorn, much like Androcles removed the lion’s thorn.
You might be prickly like a cactus. That's a good thing.
If anyone has ever said working with you was like “hugging a cactus”, I celebrate you. If anyone has told you that you were “too much”, I celebrate you. If you’ve felt less than because you believed you were “too much”, I celebrate you. If you’ve ever chosen to play a smaller game because you were tired of hearing “too much” and being alienated, I celebrate you.
It’s not that modern badasses are “too much” so much as we have not created the conditions and the environments where we present in the best light. So, instead of being told that you’re too disruptive, bold, brash, etc., let’s create hearing and knowing that you’re “just what the doctor ordered.”
I'm here for all of your alleged and much-needed too-muchness. What I am not here for is victim mentality and doubling down on what you know will only continue to alienate you from what you really want: collaboration, community, and connection. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
I want you to believe that you can rewrite your narrative, step into a higher-profile role and leverage your power for good. That said, I can't want it more than you want it for yourself. The pain of not doing something has to exceed the pain of your status quo.
If you like where you are right now, have at it and enjoy continued frustration. However, if you know your potential for a positive impact on the rest of us and you know you can be seen as an effective leader, now is the time to embrace transformation for your sake. It may not be comfortable but it is always perfect.
I believe in you. Do you believe in yourself?
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