Fortune Does Not Favor the Meek: Cultivating Lion Heart

Lionesses nick brandtLionesses Readying to Hunt, Masai Mara 2008 -- Nick Brandt

In my journeys of the past few months, I've become enchanted by the mythical lion -- king of the beasts. The strength of this great animal spirit helps me walk my path with clarity and decisiveness.

Here are some insights into cultivating Lion Heart + 12 Steps to help you dive into your destiny.

Capturing the Spirit of Lion

The lion has been revered for centuries as a symbol of courage, strength, nobility, fearless joy, "walking in beauty" -- embodying the timelessness of true Fierce Wisdom.

I love this animal, and the other big cats in the Panthera family -- tiger, jaguar and leopard -- which all have the distinctive ability to roar.

The essence of lion is quite magical, though their lives in the wild can appear mundane at times...

The females do the lion's share of hunting and rearing of the cubs, while the larger males protect the pride, "babysit" and help ward off aggressive animals like hyenas who try to jump in at mealtime. They work hard to catch their prey -- and often fail -- hunting together in coordinated attacks. The lion is fierce, yet big-hearted. Loyal to their family, the pride shares all meals and generally feasts together. Once they've had their fill they might stay in one place for an entire day without moving but a few inches, sometimes sleeping for up to 24 hours.

There are lots of fascinating details to the lives of these animals, which I won't go into. I'm more interested in the spirit of the animal, and cultivating this essence for your life and work.

My own experience with this has been pretty spontaneous and natural. Having become fascinated by these big cats, I came to notice their energy around me more. Then I started welcoming them into my life more intimately, and experiencing their power. I've found that the confidence and clarity of this energy is helpful and strengthening for my life and work, especially in handling client projects and inquiries.

It's fundamentally simple, really -- call in the energy, open yourself to it, and explore the experience. 

When you're less afraid of failure, or the opinions of others, you're more likely to pursue your goals successfully. 

On the other hand, your pursuit should be balanced with mindfulness and grace. The reckless pursuit of profit, combined with willful complacency, has brought our planet to a fine mess.

I've put together 12 steps to cultivating lion heart below, but first--

Why Lion Heart...?

The ancient Romans believed in a goddess named Fortuna (yes, 'Lady Luck' has her roots). If she smiled on you, you were gold. If not...trouble.

They also came up with this one:

Fortune favors the brave. 

wheel of fortunaIn 2000+ years since its inception the proverb has become somewhat of a cliché, though it carries a lot of truth. Originally from the Latin 'fortuna audaces iuvat' its first recorded use was in the second century BCE.

The point of course is: Take bold action, and the goddess is way more likely to smile on you.

In the archetypal Wheel of Fortune image here, the Sphinx and the Hermes-Anubis deity represent the evolution of human consciousness and spiritual self-mastery. (Source/description)

The wheel is a symbol of good luck. If you were to draw this card in a tarot reading, it would likely indicate a positive outcome for whatever course you're considering. It means good fortune is on your side, but it's specifically tied to action in this life.

Even the pursuit of self-mastery demands great effort -- carrying the potential for great reward -- but the intention is useless without concrete action. We're humans doing great things in the world -- you reading this now likely marvelous things -- and we need to get smarter about how we get things done.

The bottom line is self-empowerment -- the strength to pursue your heart's calling. This is the hardest work of all, and we need all the help we can get.

The 12 Steps to Cultivating Lion Heart...

I'm no expert, but I've learned a few things along the way. I'm more into the practical application of wisdom than waxing poetic about a bunch of great ideas. These steps are tested, and they work.

1. Learn the Lion's roar. More like a RAHHR, it ends at the back of the throat (sorta like a gargle). Works great to alleviate emotions like anger, frustration, upset, or fear. Try it. Tip: Stand up straight, as you RAWR out loud, bend down at the waist and push it out. Repeat three times. Works a charm.

2. How does a lion roam through her life? Spend time reflecting on this animal, and what she means. What does she represent to you? Feel the energy of lion in your life, and start to notice how you can bring this into more of your great work. Live and breathe the lion spirit into your own. You may connect more with tiger or jaguar, so go with that -- they all roar. ;)

3. Be classy and elegant, but don't take any sh*t! Guts, tempered by mindfulness. You don't want to steamroll the world to get what you want (that's the old way). The new approach is guts, smarts and mindful finesse. You're not an angry, aggressive human out to get her own with no regard for the consequences.

4. Go after your goals with reckless abandon. Do it with love and delicious passion. Do it for the love of something greater than yourself -- your family, your mission, your human family. Think of the hungry lion, hunting with her pride - she doesn't stop until she succeeds.

5. Learn the many facets of your value. Create resonance in yourself. Much of my work with clients is centered around discovering and owning this. The more you can rest in these unique values, the more your work will resonate with that. Natural resonance is what allows your work and your goals to float on their own. Resonate.

6. Find the real joy in your work. Shift into a space of real proactive joy about what you're offering to the world. You're not out to convince people you're doing something good -- you're just being your badass self, and creating amazing work that feels right. Does your work just feel F*ing right? Do more of that.

7. Use the structured flow approach to get your great work done. Line 'em up and knock 'em down. Repeatedly. Structured flow means you have an outline of the goal and a way to track your progress, so you can jump around within it and knock off elements based on your gut instinct/desire, rather than some arbitrary procedure. Spreadsheets are your friend. Loosely structured Lion Heart Flow. :)

8. Stick with it. Don't give up at the final hour, and don't be afraid to make tiny tweaks after you've launched. Sometimes the tiniest tweaks make all the difference (a diamond's cut is worth everything). Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say -- a small kingdom takes years to build.

9. Pray to your higher self. You're not asking permission, but you could use a little prayer for support before your big endeavor. (You can ask that others are not harmed and all is accomplished according to divine will).  That way, it's not just you and your small self fighting it out for the win.  Optional: call on your animal spirits.

10. Calibrate yourself to the energy and frequency of light. Clear your energy field, re-calibrate your flow regularly. That way, you have a clean slate to work with. You don't want a bunch of other peoples' random, messy energy bringing you down.

11. Stop trying to control things outside your influence. Especially what other people think (least of all your family and old friends). You can't control what other people think of you. That's their problem.

12. Be uncompromisingly bold. Be a badass. Take big risks -- smart, calculated risks. Look fear in the face, and go knock 'em dead. Sometimes a retreat is necessary to ensure your ultimate win. This is your one shot at this life. Try and make it worthwhile.

If you want more chances of getting lucky, you've got to take more risks and get bold. You need guts. Go for the gold, and get you're own-- cultivate the lion's heart with mindfulness, and do it your own way.

Postscript: When Bad Things Happen

cowardly lionRemember the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz?

He was ashamed for experiencing fear, since he was supposed to be the bravest of the beasts --  and yet he consistently did terribly brave things.

We're confronted with Bad Sh*t all the time, and there's a reason. Bad stuff is here to push us to up our game, to make big changes, and to push the edges. It's just a universal function of transformation.

What happens when you try and ignore it..? It just continues getting worse until you're forced to change, or become a broken, lost soul.

Think back to bad jobs you knew you shouldn't be in, but you stuck with 'cause you "needed the money." You knew it wasn't right, and it just kept getting worse until you were booted, or you jumped.

Bad relationships? Same deal. You learned what you had to learn, and then it was time to leave. But you were addicted to the drama, sex, co-dependency, whatever (and they were too). So it kept going on until one of you put your foot down.

If you're in a similar situation right now -- or maybe you're wondering why stuff just "isn't working" in your career, love, life-mission -- try capturing the spirit of lion, and focus on cultivating the great lion heart. Challenges are there for a reason -- sometimes you've got to just put your foot down, and step up.

Being fearless doesn't mean you have no fear, it means you've got enough guts and heart-strength to go for it anyway. Dive into your destiny -- claim it -- and let magic happen.

Just don't keep sitting around and waiting for the Goddess Fortuna to come and tap your shoulder.


So, I'm curious, what is it you really want in your heart of hearts? Can you feel it burning inside, waiting to roar? Maybe it's time to remember your strength and power yet again -- go out and get your own. Bolster your family, lend your strength, and commit to sticking it through 'til you succeed. And let me know how it goes... ;)


Thanks to Chris for the spark of inspiration for this piece. I'm also at Google+ and starting to warm up to it, if you'd like to find me there.

Read more about reframing your reality, aligning with the natural world and dropping into flow in my book: Flow: The 5 Elements Way of Fierce Wisdom, Strength & Beauty

Live well, and please Retweet/Share with your gang... thanks for your support! -- :)