One day, a hungry lion, resting under a tree, saw a porcupine coming out of his burrow.
It’s natural to seek comfort when the world becomes unsettled.
Trust is never found outside of ourselves.
I hear the regret they feel for silencing their voice.
Evening will soon fall upon the African plains. As the day’s heat rises out of the earth, a slumbering lion awakens, stretching his back, fixing his eyes to the horizon. He lets out a prideful roar, arguably the world’s most iconic animal sound—deafening and awe-inspiring. It is reported that his roar can be felt vibrating in the chest of any being within five miles. Yet, what is the purpose of his roar? Is it to alert his prey or enemies? Or is it to awaken his tribe?
In African culture, the elders use fables, often handed down in sacred rituals, to enable their legacy and encourage generations to teach lessons that inspire budding leaders. Let’s explore one such parable about how the mighty lion got his roar.
Many years ago, lions used to be quiet beasts, only letting out a growling tone when calling for their cubs. One day, a hungry lion, resting under a tree, saw a porcupine coming out of his burrow. It was sunset, just the time when lions became active. The lion thought the porcupine would make a good snack. But the porcupine noticed the lion about to attack and quickly raised his quills. Each time the lion tried to catch it, the porcupine would turn his head away, showing his prickly back.
But the lion had gone days without food. With his empty stomach growling, he decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it. When the lion put his mouth over the porcupine, he ended up with quills all around his mouth and inside his throat. And he still went hungry. The lion sat down and tried to remove the quills, but he could only remove the ones from his mouth. His paws were too big to reach into his throat. Unable to remove them, he was unable to hunt.
As the days drew on, he became increasingly weaker. Finally, one morning he couldn’t take it any longer. He leaned his throat back, and to his amazement, in attempting to clear his throat, he started to roar. With each roar, a quill popped out until there were no more left. And this is how the lion found his roar.
What can we learn from this story? Let’s consider the porcupine as a symbol for the complexity of any number of conditions we may find ourselves facing, in relationships or a career. It’s natural to seek comfort when the world becomes unsettled. Using this time to rest and regroup can position us to assess options for empowering ourselves. The stepping back suggests a power of discernment. Insight can intuitively guide us forward.
Discernment is a vital skill to cultivate. It requires a deeper trust in our powerful selves. However, without creating time for contemplation and listening to your inner guidance, discernment will remain elusive. This puts you at risk of stepping back into reacting based on old assumptions or interpretations. In essence, you take in, unnecessarily, a mouth full of quills.
But what if you’ve already attempted to take a bite of that porcupine? Have no fear! Each of these quills represents an opportunity to tap into our hidden strengths and unique gifts. It is often in dealing with adversity that we find our greatness, our ROAR.
Pushing and pulling bursts of air and sound (like a lion clearing his throat) is where we can find a more profound belief in ourselves. We gain strength we never knew we had. We thrust open our power to trust in ourselves. This is the foundation for peace and fulfillment. Only through a deeper trust can we accept what we can’t change and gracefully let go of useless hope so we can grow. Trust clears our gullet to breathe in the lessons and blessings within the challenges. Trust enables curiosity, which breaks down barriers and myths. But know this: Trust is never found outside of ourselves.
A lion bravely clears obstacles! This fantastic creature can remind us of our powerful potential. A lion’s heart is not afraid to stand up and protect his tribe, or stand his ground alone, even to his death. His unmistakable roar symbolizes the clearing of obstacles and a revealing of his voice. So too, can we clear a pathway to be heard and vibrate in the hearts and minds of those we influence.
First, you need to find the genuine voice necessary to honor your life. Then, you will need to create the conditions to be grounded in your power. Often this means considering the limitations and boundaries you’ve set that hold back access to your voice. Like the lion in the fable, you’ll recognize these when you feel weak, lack joy, and tolerate unproductive things. As difficult as it may be to hear, it is always by CHOICE that one remains in this state. Your life belongs to no one but you. You are the steward of the influence you possess. Outside permission is not needed to claim your rightful place.
The current conditions of your life are perfect for practice. Exercise your voice by establishing outer boundaries that protect your strength and well-being. Whether this occurs in intimate relationships or with those in positions of power, a lack of boundaries creates so much turmoil and wasted time and energy. I’ve witnessed this in my clients’ lives. I hear the regret they feel for silencing their voice. But boundary breakers don’t get there by themselves. Because we’ve conditioned ourselves to take on a victim mentality, we’ve enabled them!
Instead of confronting people based upon your needs, consider theirs. We can express what we understand in this space. Instead of assuming, practice listening. When we meet without predispositions, our energy is charged with openness, mindfulness, and the mystery of possibilities. Very often you’ll discover this disarms the situation, giving the other party room to consider new opportunities. When we are accountable and committed to create change, we own our space and our outcomes.
For those unaccustomed to roaring, exercising assertiveness can feel intimidating at first. However, you can come to see how much your voice matters. Each time you practice expanding, it will strengthen and mirror your newfound courage.
Don’t be surprised when others notice how different you sound. Your desire to awaken will open their minds to the age-old wisdom and ignite bravery in their hearts to find and claim their roar!
As you step into the renewal season of spring, I hope you will consider incorporating the lessons here into your life. Remember, lions don’t ask permission to be their most powerful selves. So take pride in your roar!