This post connects the dots between fire-breathing lizards and a psychological issue that holds entrepreneurs back from their biggest goals.
I’ve wanted to write a post about dragons for a long time. Weird as it sound, dragon’s fascinate me. Not in the lame dungeons and dragons way either. By the time you’re done reading this post, dragons will fascinate you too. I guarantee it.
The dragon is a universal legend. Almost every human culture’s mythology makes a mention of dragons. It’s astounding that, while our cultures are so vastly different, this one myth is so consistent across the globe.
The dragon myth exists in Chinese, Indian and every European culture. The scaly beasts are also known for the same infamous characteristics, no matter where you find them.
Beyond the wings, fire breathing and general serpent-like appearance, dragons have a reputation for:
- Guarding vast treasures
- Being violent and vile tempered
- Being wickedly persuasive (yes, they speak!)
- Instilling fear in puny humans
- Being ancient
Tolkien’s dragon Smaug, from The Hobbit, is probably the ultimate representation of the dragon in modern literature. Ancient Smaug guards a fantastic treasure, insidiously erodes Bilbo’s confidence and violently terrorizes a town of innocent people. As dragons go, Smaug checks all the boxes.
I’m an entrepreneur. Why do I care?!
Good question. Unless you’ve been living under a cave for the last year, you’ve probably heard about Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. I’m a huge fan of the book because it introduces the concept of the “Lizard Brain” – the part of our brain that unconsciously creates fear.
Working with the Lizard Brain is a big part of what I do. If you hang around this blog enough, you’ll figure out that I talk about overcoming fear quite a bit.
Here’s the thing about the Lizard Brain:
- It comes between you and the vast treasures your entrepreneurial career could bring you
- It can be violently abusive and self critical, torching your confidence
- It is the most persuasive part of your inner consciousness. It pulls emotional strings and blackmails with psychology.
- Creating crippling fear is it’s favourite extra-curricular activity
- The Lizard Brain literally is ancient, it’s the oldest part of our brain we’ve inherited from our reptilian ancestors.
If you’ve ever wondered why dragons are such a widespread myth then wonder no more.
Dragons are the ultimate antagonist of the oldest stories, serving as the final obstacle between the brave hero and his ultimate prize.
The dragon metaphor is present everywhere. Our ultimate succumbing to the lizard, driven by serpentine persuasiveness, begets original sin in the world’s most famous creation myth. In fact, the King James bible uses the words “serpent”, “dragon” and “devil” interchangeably.
Dragons are the story of our Lizard Brain. They’re a cultural metaphor for the darkest, most destructive part of ourselves. They are a representation of fear itself.
Entrepreneurs are the dragon-slayers of the 21st century
To win in business, you must take action that overcomes the dragon inside of you. You silence the persuasive inner critic, push through the fear and ignore thousands of years of reptilian conditioning intent on holding you back.
You shoot for the pile of treasure.
As entrepreneurs, or perhaps as Artists, slaying the dragon is the most significant step we can take towards doing the work that will transform our businesses, lives and perhaps world.
The Lizard Brain is a mighty enemy of the modern entrepreneur and it defeats the vast majority of the wannabes. Books have been read, coaches hired and blogs trawled… all to aid us while we desperately seek the elusive how-to-guide for conquering fear.
Meanwhile, the answers have been around for thousands of years, passed down through tales of dragons. The secret to the Lizard’s defeat is the stuff of legend.
How to slay the Dragon in your mind
1. Don’t allow the dragon to speak
Dragon’s know exactly how to manipulate the minds of humans. They know how to pull the strings to fill you with fear. They also create greed, which is really just fear with more bling!
Watch out for your dragon’s silver tongue – it’s just as dangerous as the fiery breath. Every syllable it utters will be laden with deceit. Your dragon will encourage you to make short term, cowardly decisions. Even worst, it’ll pretend to be on your side.
The only solution is to ignore it completely. When you enter the lair, be ready to block your ears and sing “lalalalalala! I caaaan’t heeear you!”.
Dragon’s use their persuasive voice as a backup defense. They prefer to torch their enemies swiftly, but when they know they’re really in danger they unleash their verbal manipulation.
Know this: When your dragon is muttering in your mind, it mean’s you’ve got it scared. You’re already halfway to defeating it. Ignore it and keep moving!
2. Be the unlikely hero
A dragon’s lair is littered with the char-grilled remains of wannabe heroes. Ever notice how all of these skeletons are wearing pieces of once-shining armor?
There is a reason that in all but the most cheesy stories, the dragon is not defeated by the Prince – despite his shining armor and white stallion. Just ask Shrek.
The dragon is ready to do battle with a foolish hero charging into it’s lair. It expects that kind of attack. After all, the dragon knows the stories too!
The best way to defeat a dragon is to be a little wily. Through stealth and cleverness, the sneaky hobbit Bilbo Baggins stole into Smaug’s lair without being barbecued. By spying on the sleeping dragon, Bilbo discovered the secret to Smaug’s defeat.
Don’t be fooled. You do not need the shiniest (most expensive) armor or a custom-forged sword. A stallion is not necessary. Besides, all that stuff may just make it easier for your dragon to spot you.
Instead, play it smart. Be the unlikely hero. Get stealthy and sneaky. Find your dragon’s weakness while it’s snoozing and then….
3. Aim for the weak spot
Bilbo discovered Smaug’s weak spot – a gap in his armor, on his soft underbelly. Smaug was slain by a single arrow that was aimed right for this vulnerability.
Every dragon has a weak spot and when we’re dealing with the dragon in your mind, that weak spot is always psychological.
Dragons may be cunning, but they’re also predictable. We can guarantee that they’ll always react like a dragon. This predictability is the weak spot in their psychological armor. We can exploit it.
Your dragon is greedy and will be highly motivated toward anything shiny. Your dragon is also afraid. The fear it tries to instill in you is really just a projection of it’s own unresolved psychological issues. Freud would have a lot to say about your dragon!
Clinging to treasure is a sure sign of some serious baggage. The fire breathing and scaly armor is just compensation – your poor dragon is trying to make sure no one sees past it’s tough exterior to the kitten within.
Yes, your dragon is misunderstood. You really want to defeat it?
Feel sorry for it. Look down upon it’s greed and fear. Doing battle with your dragon only enables it. Instead, when it spouts flames, simply give it a pat. Say “yes dear, you roar away and show me how tough you are.”
The last obstacle
The mythology of dragons is evidence of the significance and universal impact of the Lizard Brain fear. Defeating your dragon is the secret to entrepreneurial success.
Your ideas, business strategy, sword and armor… don’t matter. They’ll all get you nowhere until that final dragon is defeated.
Want to slay your dragon and defeat fear for good? Get the how-to guide here.
What do you think? Is there a dragon living in your mind?