“Release the Bear”


Accountability and Goal-setting

In a recent fireside chat, Andre Durand, CEO of Ping Identity, was talking about a time when he and his family were cooking breakfast at a campground. The smell of bacon filled the air and when they looked up at a nearby hill they discovered a huge bear coming their way.

You can image the reaction. Everyone immediately scrambled to clear the area and get to safety. He uses that experience as a metaphor for life. He urges us to “release the bear in your life, and then outrun it.”

We often play it safe to eliminate risk. Sometimes we fear that If we reach too far and expose ourselves too deeply and it doesn’t work out that we could lose it all. Those of us competing at work know the value of delivering what is expected of us. However, by stretching our boundaries and getting uncomfortable to deliver more we can add excitement, inspiration and create many opportunities for  growth. You will inevitably face failures along the way, but the awareness and the learning that will come from them will help you achieve more. 

It is precisely in those moments that we find out what we are made of. That we discover in ourselves a belief that anything is possible. Taking risks that make us uncomfortable and finding the determination and resources within us to persevere changes us. It exposes character and develops it. It also inspires others to follow your lead and get behind your vision for what a healthier and stronger future looks like.


There are two ways to “release the bear” at work. The most common way is to release it on others by setting deadlines, quotas and big goals for the team. This serves to keep the momentum of the business moving forward and identifies who is responsible, but it doesn’t inspire initiative and evoke the emotions that drive the desire to win.

The second way, which has a greater overall impact, is to release the bear on yourself, and then learn to outrun it. Take a chance, get outside your comfort zone and raise your hand for the next project or take the lead to exploit an opportunity you have discovered for the business. Give yourself a deadline and own it! The skills you acquire and the confidence you will gain will be invaluable in your future. Any business or team would thrive if it encouraged and supported a culture of people willing to release the bear on themselves, and reward them whether they accomplished their goal or fell short at times. 


Make a commitment to your family and friends that you will be present for them and enjoy the moments you spend together. Listen better and contribute more.  Unleash a promise so you have to get moving on delivering it.


There comes a time in any game where someone has to apply pressure on the the field, and take it to the goal. No matter what your skill level everyone should develop the courage to do this. I get it, it is easier to just move the ball and hope someone else will do it for you. By playing it safe, you can avoid the fear of failure, embarrassment and thoughts of letting the team down by losing the possession. But where is the juice in that?

The risk is worth the reward. Think of the defense as a challenge. The players are saying that you don’t have what it takes to come this way. They want you to feel uncomfortable just thinking about it. You cannot grow, hell you cannot feel alive on the field, until you summon the courage to square up and point your feet right at the heart of the challenge and go. Get comfortable getting uncomfortable so you can learn how to persevere and enjoy the feelings that come from it.

Put pressure on the pressure and exploit what comes of it. View every play as a challenge, and every challenge as an opportunity.  


Make a decision on what you want from your academics or learning and commit to getting it. Competing academically is no different than competing on a field, it’s about calling out your goals and constantly developing, adjusting your approach, and putting in the effort to get what you want. 

Encourage your athlete to call out a goal for the year. It could be achieving a certain GPA or taking a set number of AP courses and succeeding. It doesn’t matter, just encourage them to “Release the Bear” on themselves, and help them learn how to outrun it!

Phil McCarthy/Athlete2lifelite.com


Phil McCarthy/Athlete2lifelite.com

30 thoughts on ““Release the Bear””

    1. Thank you. I am grateful that you are reading the articles and taking the time to reach out afterwards. So Nice.

      Stay Positive. Stay Motivated. Stay Learning. Stay in the Moment looking forward.

      Phil McCarthy

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