In my high school years studying history I always enjoyed seeing the old world maps. On them there was usually a dragon or two. These were symbols on maps for sailors to be aware of as it marked an area of the map that was unknown and of course to travel it at their own risk. Some back then took this literally and avoided the areas never venturing into the unknown, playing it safe. Others saw it as a huge opportunity no one else was willing to take advantage of so they went for it.
Each of us have our own mental maps. I recall a run I had this past week where I was experimenting with keeping my head down on tougher routes in my run versus keeping it up. The hills where I put my head down and did not look up other than to make sure I was putting one foot in front of another, were my worst splits. The others where I kept my head up and mentally thought about getting to the top, I had the best splits. The hills were my dragons to slay.
Our mental maps we create of our world around us, we use to guide us through our days. With our heads down, we never really get the opportunity to see opportunities. I remember a mentor long ago that when you get into a tough spot would tell me to put my head down and dig in. That advice in today’s world doesn’t apply and in fact, is the worst kind that can be given. Face your trial head up and head on. You’ll reap the most from it and learn your true potential as you got through the struggle. You never will build resilience with your head down. With your head up you’ll bare real time witness to your work as you go along.
We put mental dragons on our mental maps. These are representative of things that for whatever reason, we don’t want to go after or push beyond. The most common dragon we face or encounter is called fear.
It could be fear of public speaking. Fear of telling someone what they need to hear. It could be even a desire not to participate in a particular task you’ve been asked to lead. Sometimes these dragons may be valid. But, more often then not, these dragons prevent us from doing new things.
Here’s some questions you can begin to build some resilience to overcome your dragons:
Were does fear hold you back?
Where do you see dragons?
Are they a sign of danger or opportunity?
Seneca has a great perspective on this I’d like to end with:
There are more things likely to frighten us then there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; and some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating sorrow.
Building resilience to our fears and hitting them head on is the best thing to do. Might get a little singed, but now you know and can learn moving forward to do it better. Pick that head up, go after that dragon, and have a great jump start to your best work ahead of you!
Thanks for reading.