Long Live the Future King by Scar
Have you ever wanted something so badly in life, only to see it go to someone else? Maybe it didn’t even go to someone who deserved it. Maybe the thing that you deserved — a job promotion, a relationship, a raise or something else — went to someone who’s never worked hard for that thing a day in their life.
It feels like life just comes easy to that person, and that they never have to try to achieve things. Things just happen for them. Like they were born into success. Meanwhile, you’re stuck wondering how you can clinch that goal you’ve been waiting for, even though it’s not coming naturally to you.
This is the exact position my client is in today. Some of you might be familiar with him: his name is Scar, and his desire to lead and preside over other lions (or, uh, people…) consumes him. He’s constantly thinking of ways he can rule, and always upset that the older, stronger Mufasa was granted leadership in his place. How can Scar be happy despite not being king? Is there a way for him to coexist alongside those whose possessions he covets?
To get help, Scar reached out to The Journal That Talks Back for some coaching advice. Today we’re going to read what Scar wrote to us and respond with some practical advice that can help him leave the doldrums of his current situation and develop a new, more rewarding outlook on life.
Scar’s first journal entry
“Life's not fair, is it? You see, I... well, I shall never be king. And you... shall never see the light of another… I digress. While he is out there on the savannah doing that thing…what’s it called again… AHHH yes… RULING, I am here RRRRotting in a cave staring at little toucan-y things that are so funny that I can’t even bring myself to eat them. What’s my problem? I want to rule! The kingdom will never be mine because Mufasa (that oaf) is older. But it’s clear as the stars on a desert night that I would be better. The kingdom, the savannah, the leadership… should be mine. My time will come, but I’ve been so focused on that, that I don’t know what I should do in the meantime. Just continue to languish in this garbage heap that is my home? Become a chef? Take up painting? Start… hunting? Maybe get a *shudder* job? It’s TRRRRRRULY overwhelming to even think about.”
So, I don’t know how many monarchies still exist on Earth, but it looks like Scar’s a part of one of them. And that’s cool. Despite the rarity of his situation, his problems are pretty universal: he’s feeling jaded because he can’t do the one thing he really wants to do. Meanwhile, others are doing that thing right before his eyes. That’s something we’ve all experienced.
The thing is, Scar doesn’t seem like a necessarily incompetent person. He seems capable. Smart. Cunning, even. But there’s a disconnect here, because he doesn’t seem to be working toward his goal of becoming king right now. Right now, it sounds as though he’s sort of sitting at home, waiting for his moment to be the next big leader — the next Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson — while not necessarily engaging in the prerequisite steps required to pull that kind of leadership off.
But we don’t want to assume anything about Scar, and we certainly don’t want to brand him as lazy or uninspired. In fact, our goal here is to assume positive intent always, so even if Scar seems like a sort of abrasive guy (his name is Scar, after all…), we’re going to believe that Scar is being amicable in his goals to lead.
So, upon first contact, I’d say we should pose a few questions to Scar. We might ask him what his other skills are that he’s cultivated so far. And what would a new start really look like to him? Rather than (in his own words) languish about while waiting to be king, is there something Scar can reflect upon that might change how he views his current time spent not ruling?
Let’s pose these questions to our favorite misanthropic lion (I mean, PERSON) and see what happens.
Next: reexamine the definition of exciting
“When you think of a new start, what do you think of that really excites you!? What do you find TRRRRRRRULY overwhelming, specifically?”
“Oh look at you, caring about what excites me. I guess that’s what you’re here for after all. Don’t mind me, I’m just famished. Curse you Mufasa. Anyways, I like the idea of being a ruler! I don’t know how I can be more clear, but as much as that excites me, it troubles me that the spot for ruler is taken. Curse you Mufasa. Where else can I find the rulership I so desire, without being king?”
I like where this question took us, because it’s given us a lot of information about Scar’s goals and initiatives. We’re learning that Scar is definitely a person who’s a self-starter and very motivated, which is awesome, because that’s kind of a rare thing.
But we’re also learning that while the other things he mentions are fun side projects for him (cooking, hunting, painting), his real passion is becoming king. And it’s funny, because I think this is something that a lot of us experience in our life: we really want one thing, but we go and push that “thing” into a box with a very narrow definition. For Scar, being king means needing to rule over everything right now. It’s the equivalent of starting your own business and then deciding that a successful business means building a rocket ship and going to space (here’s looking at you, Bezos). It’s kind of a false comparison, right?
Because in reality you can still have the essence of the thing you want without mandating that you get something out of reach. Even if we can’t get in a rocket ship today, most of us can still go to the planetarium. And so in Scar’s case, I think there might be ways to rule… without actually ruling over the entire savannah.
Now that we know more about Scar’s true desires, let’s pose one last question to him. I want to ask him if there’s other ways and spaces to find the rulership he desires. Where can Scar be a ruler, and what might ruling look like to him?
The check-in: redefining leadership
“Ruling can be many different things…but to me it sounds like the idea of leadership is exciting to you. Where can you find leadership, or working collaboratively with the other animals in your environment?”
“While I wouldn’t say I enjoy thinking of other ways to do things, I will say that that is an interesting question. Is there more to being a ruler… what does it mean to be a leader? I guess maybe I can start practicing with some of those rank hyenas around here. They are always fussing about… could be they need some new mo-ti-va-tion *mwhahaa*. Could be interesting…could be very interesting!”
Look at that! What I find really interesting here is that Scar is doing what all great leaders do: he’s looking for opportunities all around him. And I think that leads us to some conclusions.
What we’ve learned here is that while Scar might be a little abrasive at first, he’s actually really open to the concept of shifting his internal ideas of what it means to rule. By accessing the tools around him and experimenting with leadership, Scar’s been able to transform a period of languishing into a period of innovation, and I love to see that for him. And that transformation happened in just a few journals!
That’s great for Scar. So, my advice to anyone struggling with the same kinds of issues he’s been having might be similar. Your situation isn’t the same as Scar’s, per se, but I think it’s important to take stock of whether or not you can still have the essence of what you’re looking for without sticking to a narrow definition of that thing. Meanwhile, you can start to put the pieces in place to achieve that “larger thing” so that you’re still heading toward your North Star.
If you want more personalized advice like this, you might enjoy signing up with The Journal That Talks Back! I’ll even do you one better: I’m one of the main coaches involved at The Journal, so if you like the way I approach my clients (fictional or otherwise), we’ll probably get along well together. So either head on over there, or listen to our podcast episode all about Scar to get an in-depth picture of how we turned the antagonist of the savannah into an adorably ambitious lion (…person…).