Lion Tamer vs Lion

Lately I’ve had a bit of a struggle focusing on my writing. It’s not that I haven’t been working on things – but my focus has been more on the blog as a whole and not specific posts. I have notes for several, and few that just need to be wrapped. I’ve even been thinking a little about a redesign. As a result, I have a lot of things ‘in the oven’ but nothing fully baked.

Yesterday, as I sat down to think about what to do first and where my focus should be, I found myself thinking about Clyde Beatty, his story, and the real life lesson I’d learned from it. I was introduced to his story a few years ago when my manager had a sit down with our team to get us to focus on one or two things rather than have so many projects in process, but not ready to come out of the oven. Even if you have all the individual ingredients to make a cake, it doesn’t mean you will have a cake ready to come out of the oven. If you don’t focus on the right steps and putting things together properly, there won’t be any cake – or it might not be worth eating!

Beatty was born in the early 1900s. As a teen, he actually did run off to join the circus. He initially scored a job as a cage cleaner (he must have really have had a heart to join the circus!) But as the years progressed, very quickly he progressed and became famous for taming wild animals. In one of his acts he’d bring out lions – sometimes more than 10 lions at once. This was in a time when a majority of lion tamers would often be killed right in the ring.

So how is it that he never let a lion get the best of him? He was one of the very first lion tamers to bring out a chair and a whip. The whip was mainly for show. It’s the chair that does the important work! He would take the back of the chair with the legs of the chair facing the lion, and hold it in front of the lion’s face. The lions would focus on all four of the chair legs rather than the chair as a whole – and with such a divided focus, the lion becomes confused and freezes. There was one time that he was mauled by a lion – but it wasn’t the lions that got the best of him. He lived well into his 60s, and it was cancer that took his life.

Candidly, I think I have been the lion. With so many options and ideas I have going on, I haven’t focused on one or two things…I’ve allowed myself to get frozen, so to speak. I sat down this morning wanting to get just one post completed and posted, and well, here I am. It’s not that I shouldn’t have been thinking about all of the other things – it’s taking the time and effort to focus which is needed. How often do you find yourself like the lion, puzzled about which leg is most important? Here are a few suggestions that are helping me:

– Take a minute and list all of the options in front of you

– With the list in front of you, think about what you need to commit to first

– Now you know what to start with – make that your focus

– Build your plan, and now you’re ready go

Then where are you? You’re out of your freeze!

So here’s a question for you: are you frozen? Could you find a way to ‘see’ the whole chair, rather than being confused and distracted by the detail of the legs? When faced with many options, remember this: you need to commit to one thing instead of trying to focus on so many things. It sure has helped me! The ‘colder’ it gets – and it will get cold – the more you need a strategy, so you can focus, thaw out and move forward!

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