Learning from Leo - Lesson 1
Who would think that picking up a small ball of ginger and white fluff could cause such disruption and food for thought!
Just over two weeks ago I picked up a nine week old kitten from a fabulous cat rescue centre called Poppy's. I was incredibly impressed with the care and dedication that Claire, her husband and volunteers offered the cats and kitten at the centre.
My new charge was put into the pet carrier, I was given a folder containing all the information I needed, sachets of food, a knitted blanket and blue knitted mouse and I set off for home.
The kitten was silent until about half a mile before we got home and then he started to cry. Loudly, and unrelentingly, calling for mum and his brothers and sisters. He was not happy!
I'd decided to allow him the time to adjust and left him in the carrier with the door open. For 5 hours he sat huddled in the back of the carrier, eyes wide, shivering. I sat close speaking softly and encouraging him to be brave until my derrière couldn't take the hard tiles on the kitchen floor any more.
Time went on and I became concerned that he'd neither eaten not drunk anything since leaving his mum. I decided to get him out and he wriggled free belly to the ground, obviously frightened of his new surroundings.
The next day showed no change, huddled in the corner of his carrier or the room he wouldn't engage, didn't eat or drink. Late on Sunday afternoon he finally allowed me to pick him up and stayed on my lap. He crawled up my chest into my fleece where he crawled half way down the arm and fell asleep.
He slept for a good couple of hours and when he awake it was if someone had put the battery into toy. The listless, shivery, frightened creature afraid to move or engage with the world was transformed!!! He began to play with one of the toys the neighbour had bought him and finally ate some dinner.
His confidence has grown day by day as you can see from the photos.
So what is the lesson we could learn from Leo?
Fear holds so many people back. Fear of failure or success, fear that others might think badly of them, fear of not being good enough or of being hurt, the list of fears which limit us is endless and all too often unhelpful. Of course there are times when fear is designed to keep us safe, however more often than not the fear is related to something which has no threat, an old belief which has no real substance.
Winston Churchill said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself". Susan Jeffers offers the great advice of "feeling the fear and doing it anyway". Both of them are worth listening to.
Leo was frightened by the change in his circumstances. He had lost his mother and siblings. He had been taken to a new environment by a complete stranger and he was unsurprisingly terrified. The lesson he offers us is that he was able to let go of the fear. He wasn't tortured by the "What if " conversations which bedevil so many of us. His confidence grew quickly and any setback was quickly overcome. Fear was in proportion to the threat and once the threat diminished he bounced back quickly and without any of the baggage we saddle ourselves with on a daily basis.
"So what's the relevance to me?"you might ask".
Think about how often you give up before you have even started because you fear it might go wrong, or when you last heard that niggly voice in your head convincing you that you shouldn't do something in case you looked silly.
Now is the time to do things differently. Take Leo's example and explore your options without the fear. Go for it! Be enthusiastic and optimistic about the outcome - and you will be surprised at how often you get incredibly positive results.
The worst that can happen is that you will know it's not for you but the potential rewards are great.