Skip to main content

I started the New Year with a walking holiday in the snow, forests and mountain ridges in Transylvania. There are 6000 brown bears in the wild in this part of Romania; representing 60% of all brown bears in Europe! Not all bears are lucky enough to be in the wild though. We visited the Libearty bear sanctuary where there are currently 116 bears which were previously held in captivity, sometimes in very small spaces.

Sadly, the sanctuary isn’t really able to put things right for the bears. It seems to be a huge adjustment for them to take advantage of their extra space. It can take years for a bear to overcome their embedded trauma and adapt to the new freedoms available. Progress can be quicker for the younger bears, but none of these bears will ever be able to adjust enough to live in the wild. It’s very upsetting.

The bears and their behaviour prompted in me the idea that we, as humans, even if is not as extreme, can also get trapped in patterns of using a smaller space or not enjoying the freedoms that are available to us too.

How does this happen? Maybe we were not encouraged earlier in our lives to express ourselves, think big or see the world as a place of opportunity.

But what if being small isn’t what we want any more? How can we grow?

Perhaps the first step is to realise that different is possible. Maybe others, colleagues or friends, are a role model for us, helping us to see that something attractive is out there.

We start to understand that this is what we want too.

Once we have this awareness, something else, a resistance, can then kick in too. Often it’s fear. Probably originally to protect us from danger, fear now stops us from change.

How can we, in the words of Susan Jeffers, “Feel the Fear, And Do It Anyway.”

Susan’s book was a key entry point into my own path of personal development many years ago.

Here are five “truths” that Susan learnt on her journey to become a more confident and powerful person.

  1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
  3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out . . . and do it.
  4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, so is everyone else.
  5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.

Does any of this ring true for you?

Nowadays I would say there is a sixth “truth” too. Having some one you feel connected to in these sorts of endeavours is key.

Having a “partner in crime”, a buddy, someone who “gets you” to talk things through with can make all the difference.

Emotional connection and reliability of relationship are paramount.

It seems to me these things are a priority at Libearty too.

It may be that you are looking for support in moving on. If you are tired of your groove, get in touch. I’d love to connect, help you adjust your relationship with fear, expand your space and see how far you can go.

And if you have found the videos of the bears upsetting, as I did, you can support the work of Libearty here:

Gill How loves to work internationally with managers, executives and professionals to help them to evolve, stretch and grow their leadership capability. She is a Master Executive Coach, innovative Leadership Developer and harbours some significant walking goals! If she can help you in developing the potential of the professionals in your organisation, contact her at .

In Bucharest, Gill was able to catch up with colleagues Ana and Svitlana from her work with PSI CRO

“I was fortunate to attend the workshops Gill conducted for PSI as part of a global management development programme. I can honestly say that Gill is one of the most knowledgeable, enthusiastic and amazing facilitators I have ever met. She has a quiet confidence that makes people want to come to her for advice, her opinion, and to hang on her every word when she is presenting a topic. I still hear colleagues in the company talk about her and the workshops she facilitated months after they were finished. I recommend Gill as a management development facilitator wholeheartedly!”
Victoria Murphy, Director Training and Resourcing / PSI CRO
Like this content? Sign up here for Gill’s monthly blog newsletter.


Video and photo credits: Gill How

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results

Leave a Reply