#19: Slay the dragon

Bob Ewing
June 4, 2021

Talking Big Ideas.

“Dragons can be beaten.”
~ Neil Gaiman, Coraline

I used to make a weird face when I gave talks.

I twitched my lips every minute or so. I didn’t know until I watched a video of myself talking. It was embarrassing and must have been distracting for my audience.

As soon as I realized it, I learned to stop. It made a huge difference. The polymath Jared Diamond explains in his book Upheaval a simple process to resolving problems:

  1. Become aware of the problem
  2. Accept responsibility for it
  3. Decide to change

Often that’s what it takes to leap forward. With awareness, acceptance, and intention, we can clear away the biggest obstacles in our path.

Ray Dalio, the founder of the largest hedge fund in the world, puts it this way:

Everyone has at least one big thing that stands in the way of their success. Find yours and deal with it . . . you will hugely improve your life.



You can slay your dragons.

Take five minutes right now to give yourself an honest assessment. What is the single biggest thing standing in the way of your success? Write it down. Then ask yourself: What would it take to slay this dragon completely?


Depending on how we define success, the dragon in our path could be anything from stage fright to the filler words coming out of our mouths when we talk.

Here are several dragons that people I work with are currently battling:

  • Insecurity
  • Imposter’s Syndrome
  • Looking away instead of at the camera
  • Upspeak
  • Filler words
  • Qualifying language
  • Rambling

I run workshops to help people slay these dragons. We often do two rounds of presentations in them. For the first round, each participant speaks and then identifies what they did well and how they can improve. They also get feedback from everyone else in the group.

And out of all their opportunities to improve, they select one dragon. And for round two, they focus all their effort on slaying it. People are often delighted, even shocked, by how much progress they can make from the first to the second round.

The more we practice solely on slaying the dragon, the quicker it disappears.

Of course, you don’t need workshops to do this exercise. You can do it alone, or with a roommate or colleague.

When it comes to how you communicate, are you aware of your dragons? Are you willing to accept that they exist? Will you do whatever it takes to slay them?

If so, you’re going to crush it.

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