Lions & Tigers & Bears … Oh My!


Lions & Tigers & Bears … Oh My! Maverick leaders are brave. Not because they don’t get anxious, but because they feel fear and keep moving forward. Have you ever seen The Wizard of Oz? There was a scene along the yellow brick road between Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man just prior to meeting the Cowardly Lion. They were in the forest and afraid of meeting up with “Lions and Tigers and Bears … Oh My!”

It strikes me that these three fears/animals deliver three lessons as well. Let’s look at the trio and see how we can use them to embrace our inner maverick.

Lions – Typically seen as fearless, King of the Jungle types. The perception is that they don’t get frightened. Au Contraire! The lion and the smart maverick do get scared. Of uncertainty, a gut feeling that something’s not right, unrest, risk. But they USE the fear to pause. To research options, ask questions, THEN to act.

Tigers – Biologists call a tiger’s stripes “disruptive coloration”. Got your attention with disruptive didn’t I, mavericks?! The stripes help break up the tiger’s shape and size, so it blends better with its surroundings. The lesson in my mind is twofold. Mavericks have a strong foundation of integrity to keep them grounded. AND they have the ability to be flexible to different situations and people. They can express empathy, adapt their communication style, and change as needed to the times and people they encounter.

Bears – When I was little, I had a Teddy Bear. Did you? It was so sweet, cuddly, and comfy. And that’s why this third lesson has to do with comfort zones. We all have a comfort zone. A line of demarcation which is the boundary between what is ‘easy and makes you feel comfortable’ and that which is ‘more challenging and often results in more growth’. The comfort zone of a maverick leader tends to be larger and more supple than the average Joe/Josephine. But the true maverick can recognize it and consciously CHOOSE to expand it as necessary.

The Wizard of Oz is filled with valuable lessons. Like the one about the ruby slippers and the one about the man behind the curtain and the one …. well, let’s not ruin it for those who haven’t indulged. If you’ve never seen (or it’s been at least 20 years since you have!) The Wizard of Oz then I challenge you to give it a watch and let me know what lessons you’ve learned.

In the meantime, I hope you can learn to Feel Fear and Take Action Anyway from the Lion. And to embrace your FLEXability like the Tiger. And of course, the most important one … to recognise that YOU get to choose to Become Aware of, Honour, and then Disregard Your Comfort Zone as needed.