Three Paper Tigers Holding Back My Life's Work

Updated: Jan 29

I published my first newsletter today. Again. The first of many, hopefully. Again.

I could have done it several weeks ago. In fact, I should have. It would have helped my business. It would have kept my audience better engaged and kept me more goal- and client-focused.

In this process, I realized there were three tigers stopping me from writing my newsletter. These tigers were slowing my progress in many areas of life too -- keeping me from reaching my full potential. They are always on the prowl, casting an evil shadow, lurking in my psyche ready to pounce...

It turns out these were tigers were just paper tigers -- harmless paper, easily crumpled, burned, and discarded for the trash they are.

I'm going to talk through these tigers, how I discovered they're paper tigers, and what you can do to face down these paper tigers for yourself.

The Tiger of Doubt

I built up a bunch of negative assumptions that went something like this:

  • Why bother? People are already inundated with newsletters, let alone fitness/health newsletters.

  • What do I have to offer? I'm not unique and my advice can be easily googled.

  • Will it make a difference? People are hard to motivate to workout and they're going to have to WANT to do it, so will this newsletter even really make them healthier?

These thoughts were holding me back... I had to take action...

I went through and dismissed each of these claims.

  • People are already inundated -- that may be true, but the people I'll be emailing I've already got a relationship with and this newsletter will help keep us connected and them aware of the things going on outside of the couple hours a week I will see them.

  • What do I have to offer -- turns out, I've got a lot! I offer some of the best strength and conditioning coaching in the greater Nashville area in a safe, clean, and fun environment. I'm also doing online coaching so I can (and am!) reach people outside of Nashville.

  • Will it make a difference? You miss 100% of the shots you don't take has long been my philosophy. You never know how your work and your attitude will affect others -- especially later down the road. Keep plugging away and the people who need to hear it will hear it.

The Tiger of Shame

This one hit a little closer to home -- shame always does. The Tiger of Shame is more insidious than the Tiger of Doubt. Doubt is negative about the result. Shame labels you: you're a failure, you're a quitter, you're no good.

My past failures were haunting my current endeavors. I've failed before, therefore shame was trying to label me as a failure

I've tried newsletters before. I've tried and stopped and failed many things in my life. But gosh darn it, ya only officially fail when you officially stop trying. I've got clients that are struggling with their weight, eating habits, and mental health. I tell them to keep plugging away. Why can't I take my own advice? So I once again started the newsletter.

Will I be 100% consistent with it? I hope so and I plan to do so! But I'm ready to extend myself grace in the event I do not get a newsletter out one week.

That is what I believe is a key to long-term success: giving yourself GRACE to start and restart again and again.

"Gosh dang it Sammy, you didn't get the newsletter out this week -- OK, I knew that would likely happen; here's why it didn't; and here's how I'll shift my priorities this coming week to get back on the saddle." That is a much better conversation to have than...

"Whew, you really dodged being a failure by not even starting that newsletter, but now you're just weak for not trying." (aka, giving in to future potential disaster)


"You failure. I told you. You didn't write the newsletter this week. Just add it to the list of failures, you're never going to achieve the dreams you want." (This is me kicking the crap out of myself for not living up to what I want to do)

Both of these are bad conversations, but I'd say the former is the worst -- having never even tried, giving up before ever venturing forth, never even having the opportunity to change someone's life.

The Tiger of Shame is a nasty beast, but is a Paper Tiger nonetheless. Write down what you think you are labeled -- whatever that may be -- and talk it through with someone -- a friend, a therapist -- to get different inputs. Shame will try to crowd out all other voices. Don't let it.

The Tiger of Fear

All these things together made me want to hide in fear. Keep procrastinating. Keep avoiding. Keep finding other "more urgent" things to do. Keep running. Keep hiding.

Or I can turn and face these fears. These are my GIFTS I've been BLESSED with and to hide would be to not fulfill my God-given potential. That's robbing me of joy and robbing people of the help I can bring through my service.

A great mentor of mine, Zach EvenEsh says, "Don't talk about it, be about it." I try to live that out, especially when the going gets tough or I'm feeling lazy.

I've talked a long time about being a coach, opening a gym, helping inner city kids through strength training.

Well, no one else will accomplish that for me, except me.

Henry Ford said, "No man ever built a reputation on what he said he'd do."

I've got to keep plugging away.

Attack Your Paper Tigers

We HAVE to attack these paper tigers. We HAVE to face them down.

I've long loved "man in the arena," the famous Teddy Roosevelt poem -- being the man who is brave enough to put himself in the fray for the good of his fellow man; it is better to be the man who has tried and failed, than to be the timid soul who never even entered the arena.

It may sound stupid (hello again shame; now get out the F of here), but through this newsletter experience, I gained valuable lessons in bravery, fortitude, and determination.

It's important for me to acknowledge the times when I was brave. My paper tigers know just the right time to pounce -- having evidence to the contrary helps keep the tigers at bay and my life's work moving forward.

When you have doubt, shame, and fear creep in to your mind about any of our dreams, attack those tigers with these WEAPONS...

Doubts -- write them down and answer them objectively.

Shame -- write out the names you've given yourself and ask a friend if that aligns with what they think of you.

Fear -- ask yourself: would moving forward bring more light to the world? Think of the good that will happen and move toward your destiny!

I hope you were able to take away a bit of insight in this blog post. If you liked it, PLEASE SHARE on social media and help spread the word about my coaching! Thanks so much and God Bless!

73 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

How to Train with Pain

I've got a wide variety of clients -- high school athletes to weekend warriors to people going strong in their sixties. One thing they all have in common -- pain. Inevitably, whether that's unstable h