What to do with a 500 Pound Gorilla

I recently heard Andy Stanley share a principle that his mentor taught him that is really helping me in my personal growth journey. Andy said that when he was a young leader, he hated conflict and would do everything he could to avoid it.

When he shared this with his mentor, his mentor said to him, “Andy, in your leadership journey, there are going many situations and things that you will not want to deal with. The best way to deal with those is to picture those situations as 500 pound gorillas in cages. Do you know what the best way to deal with a 500 pound gorilla in a cage is? You have to swing open the door and face it head on.

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Since hearing Andy share that story, I have been viewing situations that I want to avoid in my life as 500 pound gorillas! When I find myself in a situation that makes me feel uncomfortable, I think to myself, “This is a 500 pound gorilla situation.” I then envision myself swinging open the cage and facing the issue head on. Then I go for it! I embrace the fear, the conflict, and the tension.

What has been the outcome of me practicing this principle? It has been working extremely well. I feel like it is taking my personal growth to another level. I am more confident and bold than I have ever been in uncomfortable situations. I am willing to initiate conflict, speak-up when I disagree, and correct others when necessary. These were all things that were incredibly difficult for me over the last few years.

My question for you is, what gorilla’s do you need to face head on in your life today?

  • What conversations have you been putting off that you need to have?
  • What things have you been afraid to pursue that you to start today?
  • What situations are you running from that you should be running into?

What we fear doing most is usually what we need to do the most.

Swing open the cage and face your fears head on. I promise you that the gorilla’s are not as tough as you think they are.


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