• WITH & Associates

Unleash the 'Cheetah' in you

Have you ever had that feeling where something inside of you just wants to get out, a yearning and desire to be more? When you think of a Cheetah, it just instinctively knows to run like the wind. Take this freedom away and what have you left? A suppressed Cheetah screaming to get out.

Is your Cheetah screaming to get out?

When I was a child, my Mum often used to say God has given each one of us ‘gifts’. It took me a while to understand what she really meant, yet I grew up knowing that each of us had something unique to offer the world, the challenge was how to find what it was.

As an adult you should think back to anytime in your life when you experienced happiness whether it was recent or even as far back as in your childhood. As a child we allow ourselves to truly experience things in the moment allowing us true joy. This is something we seem to lose as we become adults, often allowing our experiences of our past to affect our perceptions of the present, and this so often leads to us projecting the past to replay into the future resulting in fear, which truly robs us of the present. 

I love the word's "having child-like faith" - "just believe and you shall receive" - because life can truly be like this. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to rewire out minds to think like this again and believe like a child again. We literally have to retrain our 'conditioned minds' out of the bad habit of shrinking back and becoming fearful.

A dear friend of mine, Miranda Barnard, changed her own life over 10 years ago after having someone tell her the words above. She had been suffering from autoimmune disease and a person had specifically said she should look back to a time in her life that had given her joy. This took her by surprise, looking back to her childhood, where she had shared immense joy being creative. This led her to buy a pattern and make a beautiful handbag. From this was born her business Rosabella, which sells gorgeous vintage accessories and beautiful handcrafted mohair bags, belts, hats and stoles and has been running for over ten years. She was able to turn around her own adversity and create something amazing. 

"Your 'cross to bear', is your gift to share" Sam McDonald

It wasn’t until 2007 that I became curious to understand myself better and took the Myers Briggs personality assessment, yet found it lacking for what I was in search of – my ‘gifts’. However, what it did do was to pique my curiosity and I went on in 2008 to take the Gallup Strength Assessment. Again, my curiosity was piqued, but only momentarily, as I had to ask myself yet again “what now?”.

The reason being, the assessment was not the quick fix I thought it might be. It is not a test you take, then put away, now knowing who you are. If it was that simple, we would all be taking it.

I was fortunate enough one day, in 2015, to come across an online clip, where I heard DeAnna Murphy, Founder and President of Strengths Strategy Inc®, asking herself the very same question regarding the strength assessment – “I know who I am, what now?”. It was DeAnna's 'why', that prompted me to sign up for the Strength Strategy Coaching Certification. I have since gone on to study Strengths in depth, specifically the application of the 34 Strengths, through the Strength Institute in South Africa and Strengths Strategy® Inc. USA, the leading strengths application organisation in the world.

This is an on-going process, because once you buy into Strengths, you buy into the journey for life. Strengths becomes a way of life. It takes commitment to learn as much as you can about your individual reports, before you even engage in Strength Coaching. It is a promise to yourself and to others, to learn what you can, and commit to the ‘interdependent’ practice of allowing others to bring their strengths to compensate for your ‘non-strengths’ and vice versa, because as the adage goes “no man is an island”, and for us to function optimally, we need to work together allowing everyone to bring their Strengths.

"We need to get curious, not just about the contributions of each strength but what the energy of the needs require, the over-use patterns, and what have come to be called the Toxic Circle Triggers - meaning those “triggers” that set off our dysfunctional/toxic patterns- and start leveraging strengths to mitigate weakness"

A cheetah innately knows it has been put on the earth to run. It is after all the fastest land animal on earth. But what happens when a Cheetah has this innate ability taken away?

Virginia McKenna, who starred in the classic movie Born Free and received an Order of the British Empire in 2003 for her work on behalf of captive animals, says that her participation in Born Free made her realize that “wild animals belonged in the wild, not imprisoned in zoos". Freedom is a precious concept, and wild animals suffer physically and mentally from the lack of freedom captivity imposes.” PETA

This makes me think of people, because for me, when we are not able to be what we have innately been put on the earth to be, we can also suffer physically and mentally from the lack of freedom, or the ‘captivity’ of what being 'something we are not' imposes.

“An Oxford University study based on four decades of observing animals in captivity and in the wild found that animals such as polar bears, lions, tigers, and cheetahs “show the most evidence of stress and/or psychological dysfunction in captivity” and concluded that “the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out.” A survey of the records of 4,500 elephants both in the wild and in captivity found that the median life span for an African elephant in a zoo was 16 to 17 years, whereas African elephants on a nature reserve died of natural causes at a median age of 56 years. Researchers concluded that “bringing elephants into zoos profoundly impairs their viability.” PETA

It seems to me the stress and/or psychological dysfunction in society today is an epidemic, the worst it has ever been in the history of man, and Autoimmune Disease is becoming prevalent around the globe. Is this because we are being held captive to expectations and norms forced upon us, unable to be the person we were meant to be? I wonder if people who play to their innate Strengths, people who do the work they were born to do, live longer?

“people who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit their jobs.” Gallup

What we do know, is that 80% of people are unhappy at work. Just imagine those millions of people. Have you ever thought of the ‘knock on effect’ of this in society? How does it play out in families when parents go home and transfer their emotions into the home environment? Or children going home from a day at school or university who have been with a unhappy educators, or unhappy students? What will it cost for us to continue along the same path? Einstein knew when he said, “insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.”

It is time for us to do something differently

Unlike animals we have been given free will. Freedom is one of my very top values and, to be the person I was put on the earth to be, in an interdependent, ‘mindful of other people’ kind of way and this has to be the biggest gift I can ever give myself, and others.

Reading through Viktor Frankl’s, ‘Man's Search for Meaning’, I recognize that all of us need meaning and truth in life. Meaning - finding one’s value and purpose. Truth - being real and authentic to who you innately are.

So where is your ‘Cheetah’?

When you discover and begin to actualise the person you innately are, you will be utilising all your God given strengths, because when we find work where we can bring our strengths, we move into the A+ Zone where we will be highly energised, engaged, happy and perform at levels we have only ever dreamt of. A Strength requires that we add skills, knowledge and experience to our innate Talents.