Seven Dragons Hissing

Accountability Personal leadership Resilience


Key Point: When fear takes over, people make bad decisions and often behave irrationally. Laurie Skreslet, the first Canadian citizen to reach the summit of Mount Everest, spoke to a select group of our leaders the other day. We asked him what he’s learned about fear. When you hear Laurie’s incredible stories (like walking on skimpy ladders over crevices thousands of feet deep) it underscores that  “professions” like extreme climbing can really teach us how to better understand what drives our fears and how to effectively manage them. Obviously, in Skreslet’s “work,” when fear leads to a bad decision it can literally be fatal. In this context, Laurie introduced us to what the Tibetans call “The Seven Dragons.”

Laurie has spent many years living among the Tibetan people and the Sherpa’s that guide climbers up Everest and other mountains. They have taught him much about human nature, including self-destruction connected to fear. The seven dragons ultimately emanate from fear — and fear distorts reality. Remember that one definition of FEAR Is: False Expectations (beliefs) Appearing Real. However, when you and I are aware of our fears we can address them, focus our energy and adjust our behavior accordingly.

There are both positive and negative aspects of the Seven Dragons and each side can pull us. Under “pressure” we are often more susceptible to the negative attraction and false belief of each dragon. This can lead us towards fatal behavioral flaws that consume our energy and detract us from being our best. They are usually based on lies and stories we tell ourselves to dispel fears we have about our life. 

The following are the Seven Dragons, and the false beliefs that sustain them:

  1. Arrogance — you are better than others. 
  2. Self-Deprecation — you are worse than others. 
  3. Impatience — there is not enough time. 
  4. Martyrdom — you are a victim. 
  5. Greed — you don’t have enough. 
  6. Self-Destruction — you will not succeed. 
  7. Stubbornness — you are weaker than others. 

Over the next few weeks I’m going to write about each of them, beginning with STUBBORNNESS. Why? According to Skreslet, the negative aspect of STUBBORNNESS can be a “gateway drug” to the negative aspects of all the other dragons as well. I’ve seen the destructiveness associated with this dragon many times in my career. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Let’s put some work into recognizing, understanding and managing our dragons. This means being self aware of their positive pull as well as the destructive potential of their negative pull. If we know our dragons, we can catch them as they affect us. According to Skreslet, we then will be able to “starve them of attention before being drawn too deep into their lairs.” Let’s learn more about each dragon together.

Managing Seven Dragons In The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: Good. I would like to better understand most of these “Dragons” too. In terms of fear, an old friend and former fraternity President of mine once addressed a young group of us after sharing a personal story of pretty harrowing hardship. He summed it up with: “Nothing is ever as bad as you think it’s going to be.” It sounds simple, but apply it to real things you’ve been afraid of or shied away from. I’ve never forgotten that, and I think it rings true.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis