Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why slaying dragons guarantees you win big in business

by Peter Shallard
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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

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