I must have been about 10 years old when I learnt a very profound lesson from my grandmother. My siblings and I went upcountry to spend our school holiday there. Two days into our stay, my grandmother pointed to the farm and showed me an area that I was supposed to cultivate – I thought it was a joke because the area was quite big for a 10 year old. My sister and cousin who were better informed than I knew that the old lady was not joking and they told me what to do; get help from the community, and they went ahead to help me plan. I learnt that a huge task for one person is a small task for a community.
Back home in Kenya, we have different variations of community activities – chama / kikundi, harambee, etc. In olden days, farming communities in America got together to help each other build or raise their barns, and hence the term barn raising. In the church we have cell groups/ koinonia/fellowship. Community is where real life happens. Barbara Sher, an American business woman, author and career coach summed it up like this; ‘isolation is a dream killer’– and she went ahead to found success teams to help people achieve their dreams and goals. Success teams are made up of individuals who have dreams or goals they want to achieve, or those who want to learn how to dream, learn techniques and get equipped with tools to turn their dreams into goals and generate action plans to work towards their goals. Success teams are phenomenal.
It was in a success team session where we sat around the table and listened as each team member took turns to report on the goal directed actions they had taken in the past week. It was funny how everyone’s first sentence was ‘I didn’t do much this week…….’ And then they went on to mention the things they had been up to, from planning and creating space in their day to browsing websites for information and talking to others to get more insights into the ideas they were pursuing. Only later did we all realize that the little steps we had taken added to meaningful action that we would build on to achieve our goals.
It was clear that this particular week had been difficult for most of us. Amidst the responsibilities of running a home, supporting the family and studying, there was this ‘thing’ right in the belly that was screaming and howling for our attention, refusing neither to be shut down nor to be ignored. One of the team members summed up her reflection of the week in this way; ‘This past week I was a bit frustrated and I got really upset with the coach for doing this to me……….’ In a nutshell, the coach had introduced this ‘thing’ that had upset her world and now she had to deal with it – there was no turning back.
My team mate’s reflection would later on liberate my mind and spirit. The following morning as I was setting the table for breakfast, I was thinking about the ‘thing’. It occurred to me that this ‘thing’ is a lion on the loose. Let me explain; when we embark on a journey of self-discovery, we discover our strengths, weaknesses, talents, potential, dreams and desires. Often times, great teachers, authors, professors, entrepreneurs, leaders and many more are buried beneath layers of limiting beliefs, some of which are handed to us as we grow up while some we pick, sometimes unconsciously, from our environment, our experiences and even from conventional wisdom- yes some conventional wisdom can be limiting.
One very common piece of wisdom we often hear is to let sleeping lions sleep. We are advised to play it safe and not to venture where we are likely to awaken trouble. I believe this only to the extent that we are talking about ‘bad trouble or stupid trouble’. I will not walk into the Maasai Mara and pose for a photo with a sleeping lion, let alone awaken him. However, I know that each human being carries with them dreams, aspirations and lots of potential to fulfil those dreams and affect the world around them in a positive way.
A success team provides a safe environment where we are taught and encouraged to dream without inhibition and vent out our frustrations without fear of ridicule. The coach’s job in this process is to challenge limiting beliefs and the limiting aspects of conventional wisdom and the result is that we agitate the lion within us that has been sleeping calmly and he being hungry and eager to be set free will roar until we set him free. We cannot cage him again – he knows his rights. The most important thing is to be equipped to handle our lion once we awaken him.
How do you handle your lion on the loose? Look out for part 2 of this post to know how to.