A dancing bear is a wild bear captured when the animal was young or a bear born in captivity and used to entertain people in the streets for money. Dancing bears were commonplace throughout Europe and Asia from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, and could still be found in the 21st century in some countries. Shockingly, they were still present on the streets of Spain as recently as 2007. Dancing bears were also commonplace on the Indian subcontinent. According to the BBC, the last of them were freed in 2009.
Besides the injustice of taking these animals from their natural habitats and forcing them to perform unnatural acts, their training regimes tended to be cruel as well. The bears would be chained and caged, muzzled, and beaten into submission. Even standing on their hind legs for long periods of time was an unnaturally painful posture that needed to be coerced.
To train bears to perform acts they wouldn’t normally do in the wild, their trainers hopscotched back and forth between pleasure and pain – frightening the animals with whips and rewarding them with sugar cubes. Obviously, this risk/reward strategy broke the animal’s spirit and further coerced it to do what the trainer demanded. Eventually these two extremes became the bear’s poles of existence; from pain to pleasure and back again.
But assuming the injustice of trained dancing bears was mostly eliminated nearly a decade ago, why is this a significant subject for my last blog post of 2017?
The beginning of a new year is the time that many of us think back on our last year and plan for what we’re going to do differently in the coming year. Rather than simply list the things you’re going to do (“This is the year I’m going to write my book”) and the things you’re not going to do (“I am not going to eat carbs anymore”), why not look at your motivations for doing these things?
Are you operating from fear or are you looking towards accomplishing the things that will make you feel good about yourself and your life? Are you yo-yoing back and forth pain and pleasure or are you moving positively into the future? And even more importantly, are you writing resolutions that allow you to further express your authentic truth or are you using resolutions to force yourself into unnatural behaviors?
As we head into the new year, maybe it’s time for you to reflect on whether or not you are using punishments and rewards much like the whips and sugar cubes that coerced dancing bears to get up on their hind legs and hop around when the music played.
Wasn’t much fun for the bear. Not much fun for you, either.
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Since there’s nothing we can do about Twain’s first day, why not make it your New Year’s promise to work on point two? True, you’ll probably never actually figure out why you’re here (or even if there actually is a reason) but the exploration will help you decide what to do (and what not do) next. What’s more, figuring this out will pay off for your business and your brand.
Instead of just focusing on the things you do, concentrate on identifying who you are and why that persona resonates with your current and potential customers’ wants and desires. Because even though the product or service you sell may provide the actual result your clients need, the relationships you build with them — relationships based on an acceptance and understanding of your authentic truth — will entice them to do business with you.
People don’t choose what you do. They choose who you are. Of course, you want them to choose to do business with you, not just any dancing bear that comes along. But first you have to let them know who you are and why you matter to them. If you want to learn how to do that, click HERE.
One thing you can be sure of, it’s not the whips or the sugar cubes!