Sharks are fierce. Relentless. Fast. Powerful.
That’s why seeing sharks in aquariums is so eerily strange. The last thing you’d ever think of a shark is “tame”. But we have a curious tendency to take what is raw, fierce, and awesome and make it safe and manageable.
And we do the same thing with our abilities.
- Do you shortchange yourself to fit in an aquarium that someone else built?
- Do you allow the parameters to neuter your creativity, passion, or leadership?
You’ll never truly be happy, never truly effective, never truly YOU if you don’t live in the ocean. Stop trying to fit in a glorified fish tank when you’re a 20-foot great white. Even the world’s best marine biologists know they can only tame nature for so long. Keep a shark in captivity and it will die. Some will mourn, but eventually the aquarium will just find another one.
I’ve worked my share of fish tanks in business and nonprofit. When I stopped swimming with my arms tied and started being who I was, a few things happened:
- Breakthrough for the organization I worked for.
- Fear from insecure bosses who loved what I did but didn’t want me to “get big”. This was usually accompanied by some lame excuse that made me lose respect for them and ultimately leave.
- Affirmation from secure bosses who encouraged me to be fierce, relentless, and awesome. This was usually accompanied by celebrations and caring wisdom to launch me to the next level, making me want to work for them for free.
Don’t tame your passion, vision, creativity, or leadership. Sure, you have to steward these things in a respectful and intentional way.
But don’t let the limits neuter you or stunt your growth. If you’re in a place that’s allows you to both grow it and grow with it, you might be in a healthy ocean. Fish tanks are different. They’re predetermined and need lots of artificial filtration.
Perhaps oceanographer extraordinaire Sylvia Earle sums it up best:
Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you’re lucky enough to see lots of them that means that you’re in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don’t see sharks.
Question: What have you done in the last six months that made you feel the most alive, the most “you”?
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