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Are You Fenced In?

Sometimes our biggest barriers are of our own making.

I don’t know about you, but I find that my biggest barriers to brave are often of my own making. I suspect I’m not alone. As it turns out, there are a lot of chickens out there running around trying to escape their fences, as illustrated in the fun and macabre film, Chicken Run.

Chicken Run is an animated stop-motion film about a chicken farm in the 1950’s whose nefarious owner decides to go from selling eggs to making chicken pot pies. As you can imagine, this causes quite a stir in the hen house and under the leadership of “Ginger Chicken” the hens work to plot their escape. Ginger throws out dozens of ideas—all of which are turned down:

“We could….!!!”

“Nah…”

“We could…!!!”

“That’ll never work.”

“We could….!!!”

Lots-of-head-shaking.

Sound like a meeting or two you’ve attended?

Finally, exhausted and frustrated, Ginger looks out over the crowd of chickens, all who are facing their demise, but none who seem to have the impetus to do anything about it, and says (in a wonderful British dialect), “The fences aren’t just around the farm, they’re in your HEADS.”

And I thought… yes. Yes they are. For most of us, our fences are in our heads.

For most of us, our fences—the barriers that hold us back from being who and where we want to be—are in our heads.

I see that with myself. In all my reasons “Why not…” In my need to be perfect before taking a leap. All the barriers I erect in my mind to keep me safe. Except they don’t.

I see them in all my participants, in my colleagues, friends, and family—because of course it’s so much easier to see them in others than it is to look in the mirror.

I often say, when I teach, that if we can name it, we can do something about it. What are your fences?

(Spoiler Alert!) You will be happy to know that the chickens did eventually find the strength, creativity, focus, and fortitude to make it over the fence. Yes, that was partly due to Ginger’s incredible leadership and her talent for bridging the confidence of every chicken on the farm. But she couldn’t do it alone. Each chicken had to find her own way to grapple with the fences—both real and imaginary.

For on the other side we might not only discover the freedom we seek, we might just find our brave. 

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