Riding the Wild Tiger

Every now and again it’s good to do something that scares the living daylights out of you.

I’m talkin’ complete ‘red zone, hyperventilation inducing, nail biting, heart thumping, step off the cliff and see if you can fly’ territory.

This week I did just that.

I am a regular workshop facilitator and have spoken in front of big groups on countless occasions.

But this week I had to share the stage at a speaking expose on leadership and success with some very inspirational people, each with a string of accolades, awards and achievements behind them.

I felt like a complete fraud.

To make matters even worse, my speech began with me telling a personal and very vulnerable story about my journey into leadership coaching.  In front of 100 odd strangers.

Um, helloooo? What was I thinking?

Let’s just say there were a few moments when the term “heart in mouth” took on a whole new meaning.

But the gift and wisdom of hindsight touched me lightly on the shoulder (yet again.)

I rediscovered the beauty of stepping outside the proverbial comfort zone.

When we do so, it inevitably unveils a learning – about ourselves, about limits, about fear. About self-doubt. And about the air punching moment we feel ourselves doing something which terrifies us…despite feeling as if we might die in the process.

“Life is like a wild tiger. You can either lie down and let it

lay its paw on your head or sit on its back and ride it.”

This blog post was originally intended to be one about tips for public speaking. But I don’t feel experienced enough (yet) to dole out that advice.

What I do know is that life can be a full kaleidoscope of colour or a muted, dull grey.  The choice is yours.

Sure, if you choose the kaleidoscope, expect to feel the full gamut of emotions. Sometimes the glare can be a little hard to handle.

But I’d choose the ‘kaleidoscopic, ride the wild tiger’ version any day. And in leadership, if we also opt to take this illuminated path, the rewards are vast.

When I stood up in front of the crowd on the stage, I felt the slicing sting of anxiety which I had not identified with for many years.

Here’s the thing though. Daunting as it was, it didn’t kill me

In fact, even as I felt the paralysed clutches of nervousness, there was another, wiser, detached part of me recognising the gift of experiencing this long forgotten emotion.

I also felt exhilaration.  That complete body buzz sense of doing something you know is expansive, developmental, growth inducing, difficult.

Good leaders do not play it safe all the time, but rather get outside of their comfort zone and push boundaries – theirs and their teams’.

So the next time you have the opportunity to do something which scares the pants off you, I encourage you to do it.

What’s the worst that can happen?  You can fail.  And in my book, that’s called learning.  And it’s a helluva lot better than the beige, muted ‘not participating at all’ alternative.

It’s called Riding the Wild Tiger.


  1. Nirmala Solanki on March 8, 2014 at 4:09 am

    This weeks blog is a gentle reminder for all of us to feel the fear and do it anyway. Whilst stepping out of our comfort zone is scary, one can also reap huge rewards. I agree with you Suzi, what is the worst that can happen? We can fail but what does not kill us makes us stronger.

    • The Leader's Digest on March 9, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks Nirmala. I love the saying ‘that which does not kill us makes us stronger’. Cheers, Suzi.

  2. Vince McErlane on March 7, 2014 at 1:19 am

    Great blog this week Suzi. I’d have to agree with you that it’s one of the scariest and most exhilarating things you can do. Facing your own demons and getting out of our comfort zones is some we don’t do enough. I hear myself telling my children to try new things and not be afraid but don’t tend to take the same medicine ourselves. Thanks for the timely reminder!

    • The Leader's Digest on March 7, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Great to hear from you Vince, hope things are good in your world.

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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