As kids, we often find ourselves at the mercy of some bully on the playground. You know the ones, that mean kid that calls you names if you fall down, don't dress quite right, don't do what they want you to do. They resort to names that will cut you to the core and hope that it somehow destroys your internal confidence, security, and obscures your image of yourself along with the perception and image others hold for you.
This also happens many times as adults. We tend to call them nowadays ' Internet Trolls'. Well, I had a hard business go and failed an event years ago. And this happened to me. Instead of sitting down and talking like adults, instead of owning their role in how they behaved and what they did, they resorted to name calling and humiliation. Then it happened...I was degraded by being called names and their trademark phrase became ' A Leopard Never Changes it's Spots.' Wow....I was devastated. I must have read that phrase hundreds of times. I cried, I got depressed, I fell apart.
I was recently sharing this with a colleague of mine. We were talking about business wins and business fails; I shared my story. When I got to the part of being called names and stated this phrase...he literally laughed out loud. I was instantly annoyed and to be honest, silently furious. This brought up a lot of old hurtful memories. He said, 'Honey...if all I ever in life was called that...I'd think I'd finally arrived.' For the first time since it had been said, he put it into great perspective. So I researched 'Leopards' and this is what I learned:
'Leopards are graceful, powerful cats who when content, they purr...when upset, they roar. They are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Fit, agile, adaptable, great speed, fierce, protective, magnificent, strong, for the most part solitary. They recognize their enemies easily. Even when their enemy thinks they are hiding very well, so it gets prepared and ready. It is patient and strategic to protect it's offspring, home and what they've built. Their spots are known as rosettes because they resemble a rose.
He then looked at me and said, along their journey to new land, or sometimes just in everyday life, the Leopard has to come across a pack or a few Hyenas, or a few snakes in the grass. It's too bad you see a Hyena and a Slithering Snake as more elite than you....a Mighty Magnificent Leopard. A snake might shed it's skin...but in the end, it is still just a new shiny snake. Snakes like to hide and seek out groups to roll around in the dust with. One strong strike from a Leopard who knows it's power, will take out the entire writhing ball of snakes. Hyenas may come in packs and poke, bite, hurt, may even almost completely destroy a Leopard; but a Mighty Leopard on it's journey, is determined and will attract other Leopards who will be by their side. Alone or together, the Leopard is strong. Strong enough to stand. You just need to find your pack, and know your worth.
That sunk in. It took a few days and a few more tears, but it sank in. So I took time to reflect and reframe. And here's 5 points I resonated with:
1. BE MAGNIFICENT! You are the only one on your journey. Don't forget who you are. Take a look in the mirror everyday and let out the beautiful magnificent you. Look after yourself. Love yourself and love your journey.
2. Be proud of your beautiful spots and scars. We live and learn daily. What makes each of us unique and special is our scars. Wear your battle scars with pride. They only serve to show you survived and got back up.
3. Like attracts Like. Pretty self explanatory. I'd rather be a beautiful Leopard anyway who doesn't lose their spots. Because my spots are beautiful roses. Find your tribe and lean into what you were destined to become.
4. Recognize your Enemy and use your instincts to survive and thrive. Be adaptable. Just be concerned with being better every day. Change comes. So change along with it.
5. Learn to sit content in the quiet moments. You are allowed to enjoy life, and it's beautiful. Don't waste a second on what anyone thinks of you. They are probably below you if they are that way. If you see equal sized wild creatures in the wild...yes, sometimes there is conflict, but most often it's the mutual respect they give one another as they either join their packs or journey past. Maturity and wisdom grows out of this mindset.
You were meant for greatness. Life can be hard or life can be beautiful. It's all in what you make it.