Name Fear To Tame Fear
Need to find some “Tall Poppy Courage?”
If you live in Australia, or have ever travelled here, you’ll have heard of the Tall Poppy Syndrome. It may sound like a medical condition, but it’s actually a cultural one, whereby people who become too successful (or aspire to be) get cut down to the ground like a ‘tall poppy’ flower. I suspect it comes from our convict roots and disdain for the class system of Mother England.
Over recent decades it’s influence has waned but it’s still there, in the shadows and every so often we see someone whose success has set them apart from the masses, gets ripped apart by the media. It can be brutal.
While the Tall Poppy Syndrome may be uniquely Australian, the fear that drives it is universal. As I’ve worked around the world, I’ve met thousands of people who are afraid of reaching for their dreams, speaking up or standing apart because of what might happen when they do.
The truth is that regardless of culture, we are all social beings, and far more alike than we are different. We all want to belong, to be liked… admired even. And we’re all innately wired to avoid doing things that might put our sense of belonging at risk.
But here’s the deal, sometimes you need to do just that.
As you go through life, sometimes you have to risk standing apart from the crowd, doing something others may criticize, rocking the boat and laying your pride on the line for something far more important.
Over the years I’ve found that by naming the fear that urges me to fit in and play safe, I can better discern when its actually keeping me from doing the very things I need to do… despite the risks. As I share in my conversation below with Deb Spellman, I’ve named that noisy rabble of voices my “Small Poppy Committee.”
If you sometimes struggle with self-doubt; with voices in your head saying, ‘Who are you to do that? What if you fail? What will people say? You’ll make a fool of yourself!” then try giving those voices a name. Debbie Downer. Nervous Nelly. Timid Trevor. Okay, okay, I’ll stop (I’m no poet.) But you get the drift.
Who you are is not the voice of fear in your head, however loud it screams!
But if you let your fear steer your ship, it will often chart a cautious path away from the very things you know, deep down, you need to do and say and become. Even more it will keep you from blossoming in to the person you know you have it within you to become
Your fear will never go away. But by becoming mindful of the power it can wield in your life, you can learn to take action in its presence, which, as I’ve said many times, is what courage is all about.
So let me ask you, where would you steer your ship in a different direction if you took hold of the wheel? More so, where might you end up if you don’t?
Where do you need to dig deep and find your “Tall Poppy Courage?”