Are You a Gremlin

Bugs Bunny is the best. I loved watching Looney Tunes growing up. Next to Popeye, Bugs Bunny was the coolest. He was the hero or antihero of every episode he was in save one -The Falling Hare (1943). In that episode, he was out foxed by a gremlin.

The term “gremlin” denoting a mischievous creature that sabotages aircraft, originates in Royal Air Force (RAF) slang in the 1920s among the British pilots stationed in Malta, the Middle East, and India, with the earliest recorded printed use being in a poem published in the journal Aeroplane in Malta on 10 April 1929.

The Falling Hare cartoon opens with Bugs reading about gremlins who commit, “die-a-ball-lick-al sab-o-ta-gee”. (diabolical sabotage). I like to use the term “gremlin” to describe one of the two voices inside. The Inner Gremlin is that nagging critical voice inside us that exists to protect the status quo. The opposing voice is the Inner Champion. The Inner Champion tells us more is possible.

I suggest that, from the first waking moments of the day, there are two voices inside us, The Inner Gremlin and the Inner Champion, that compete to see who is loudest. They show themselves in the messages we tell ourselves what kind of day we will have. It is like we have our hands on two separate volume dials and we choose to turn up either the Inner Gremlin or the Inner Champion.

The gremlin is a bully that stands guard at the edge of our comfort zone and sabotages success. It predicts the worst thing will happen if we try something new. It has a hyper negative focus in its effort to maintain life as we know it. The problem with this inner critic is that sometimes it is right, or at least helpful, as the saying goes,

“a broken clock gives the correct time twice a day.”

Most of us where raised on Gremlin messages which were meant for our good.

“Don’t touch that!”
“Watch your fingers.”
“Slow down, you’re going to fall.”
“Be careful. You might get hurt.”

Gremlin messages serve their purpose when we are young, but they get in the way and confuse us about our true potential. When we have the volume of the Inner Gremlin turned up too high, we can get stuck, or even go backwards, and we miss out on joy that is readily available to us.

I know you can relate to what I am saying. It’s easy to see isn’t it, how much our inner dialogue influences our experience. My question for today is,

“Are you being a gremlin to anyone else?”

“Are you the border bully for anyone’s dream? Your spouse? Your kids? Your neighbors? Your co-workers/employees?”

It can be so easy to be a gremlin, especially with our children. I remember those days when our boys were learning to walk. There were periods of my kids development where I held my breath a lot. You know that gasp you make when you think someone is about to get hurt. I can still see their little heads wobbling back and forth right near the corner of the coffee table as the y tried to stand up. Funnily enough I got caught in gremlin mode with my oldest just a couple of weeks ago at the dojo. Micah, who is certainly way past the toddler age, was my partner. We were practicing a judo throw that is similar to a headlock where you take your opponent over your back and to the ground in front of you. Every time I threw Micah, I was cradling his head as he fell. The problem with that is that it impeded him from doing a proper fall. In my reflex to protect him, I was actually getting in his way. After a few times through he said,

“You keep doing the dad-catch. You need to let me fall on my own.”

Fair enough.

When you grow. It makes people uncomfortable. It shines the light on some of their own dark places and unaware people can go into attack mode when that happens. It’s more of a reflex than a response. Family members or fellow addicts can be the most vicious in their reaction. I am certain you can think of several examples of this from your own life or the experiences of others. But back to the question of the day, can you recognize where you might be getting in the way of someone else’s growth?

If so, why not see how you can throw open the gates and be a champion for others this week.


Rick Burris

PS – Like Bugs Bunny’s gremlin, our gremlin has a plethora of tactics for sabotage. In the Silence the Gremlin lesson of the Life Leaders GPS, I cover this thoroughly and provide a Success Implementation Guide to help you quiet the barking dogs.


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