Danger Ahead

It was a beautiful saturday, we were visiting my brother. We decided to go out for a hike near his home.

There were six kids between us, my bro and I. We headed out, climbed over a wall on the edge of the housing area and were out in the wild. It’s amazing how climbing a wall can increase the adventure ten-fold!

The views were stunning, rolling hills in every direction and though the sun was hot, there was a mild breeze and we could enjoy the day. The kids ran on ahead exploring and discovering all kinds of interesting flowers, trees and other items that had been left behind by other visitors on the pathway.

They found a few footballs kicked over the fence from gardens way up the valley; delighted with their unexpected treasure hunt.

My brother and I were catching up, it had been a few weeks since we’d seen each other. We were deep in conversation when I heard my son shout. Then my youngest boy gave a scream and ran towards me. He was crying and shaking. I lifted him up into my arms and felt his heart pounding.

What is it? What happened? He could barely get the words out.

A snake. Huge.

I felt weak.

Now, coming from Ireland, I’m not a girl that’s used to seeing snakes while out on a hike in nature. You see, St. Patrick took care of all the snakes in Ireland, they say he drove them out (a story for another day!).

I wanted to run in the opposite direction.

I realized that the snake was long gone. And I congratulated my boys for their enormous bravery, adding that had I been the one to see it, I would definitely have handled it less well and probably passed out on the spot!

I did assure them that they were safe and we quickly made our way to an area where there was less likelihood of further similar surprises.

Afterwards I thought about my son’s reaction. His fear was palpable, instinctive, the absolute knowing that he was faced with real danger.

It was totally appropriate and the very instinct that translates into survival.

It also made me realize how often we are paralyzed by our perception of danger, our fear of the unknown; the opposite of the real snake lying on the path ahead.

We often make decisions in our business (and lives) based on an assumption of one of three things: danger, exposure and discomfort. The fear of these three is often stronger than the probability that any of them actually exist.

There’s a wonderful story that Byron Katie tells of walking in the desert and seeing a huge poisonous snake up ahead on the path. She was gripped with terror, imagining the impossibility of ever escaping. She feels the fear in her body but an instant later notices that in fact it is not a snake. It is a piece of rope. Katie says that once she made this realization,there is utter relief and such freedom knowing that everything is changed.

She says, once you know that it is a rope, a thousand years will pass and you’ll never be convinced that it is a snake again. You have seen and understood that it is merely a rope, it is impossible for the fear to return.

I wonder what snakes you are dealing with right now? How many of them are actual snakes? Can you see the piece of rope too? Take a look.

What is the snake in the path of your business? Can you see that it may not be as fierce, dangerous and threatening as you thought? Can you see that it is simply a piece of rope?

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4 comments on “Danger Ahead

  1. As someone who reacts to snakes in the way your son and Katie do, I love the mantra of "it's just a rope." Thanks for that message!

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