Admire the Alligators: Wisely Navigate the Dangers
We were at a board retreat in south Florida recently, where the nearby water was populated with a plethora of alligators. Most of those in attendance were from other states, so they were very interested in admiring the alligators—from a distance, of course.
Living around Alligators every day requires keen situational awareness and intelligence.
Don't swim with them.
Don’t feed them.
Don’t get close to them. They're fast!
Similarly, we face risky situations in life that require us to make decisions. It's those dangerous moments that add a little zest to life. If we're too cautious, we risk missing opportunities to grow beyond what has become our status quo safety zone.
Wisdom consists in being able
to distinguish among dangers and
make a choice of the least harmful.
— Niccolo Machiavelli
Alligators are part of the ecosystem in Florida, along with parts of Louisiana, South and North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and even Oklahoma. Admiring the alligators is fun for some, but I'm reminded of a time when I inadvertently snuck up on one.
I was playing golf at a course in South Carolina and was looking for my ball near a pond. My mind was obviously very focused because I failed to notice an alligator about 20 feet away. Fortunately, he made a slight twitch that caught my eye and froze me in my tracks for just a second. Then, I quickly moved away and dashed back to the cart.
After recovering my breath and my senses, I was mad at the people running the course because they never warned us. No signs. No nothing. We were tourists, not locals, and we had no idea we were navigating life-threatening situations while playing a round of golf.
But it was an exhilarating moment that is etched in my memory!
Reflecting back on the adventures of growing up, nearly everything that was fun as a kid was also a little dangerous. Like ...
... jumping off the roof,
... racing downhill on a bike,
... riding roller coasters,
... reaching out to hold hands.
That continues in adulthood because we still face scary situations that can stifle us. It's the dangers in life that keep it interesting, challenging us to grow even stronger.
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of inadequacy.
- Fear of trying new ways.
- Fear of trusting people.
I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.
— C.S. Lewis
Confronting risky situations is certainly part of the journey for effective educators. Overcoming fears requires keeping a healthy perspective focusing on what is real. Contrived dangers are especially paralyzing to our work, confusing facts and fiction. When we allow the circumstances to become bigger than they are, we tend to degrade our influence by making decisions out of fear rather than courage.
Wisdom is vital as we calculate the risks and rewards of various situations that arise. We will inevitably face temptations that risk our integrity, cause harm, or poison our culture. These have to remain off-limits, where we don't even consider them an option.
Noble character is cultivated in righteous thinking and courage when facing danger. Sometimes, the best decision is to run. Sometimes, it's to stand and fight. That's the thrill of life!
Live a life worth living this week, my friend, boldly moving through the fears and dangers because little can be accomplished on this side of either.
Love'em and Lead'em!