This past weekend, a friend and I subjected ourselves to some kinda camp, better known as the 2006 flick: Snakes on a Plane. If you don’t want me to spoil it for you, probably best you stop reading, ‘cause I’m a-gonna spill the dramatic arc here. (Air quotes are implied) There are snakes on a plane. They freak everyone out. How they got there (bad guys) is kind of irrelevant. They’re there and they’re freaking everyone out. I mean, they are snakes on a plane for the love-a! (Full disclosure: I am full-on eeeeeeeeeeck when it comes to snakes.  Even Harvey Slytherin, the garter snake hanging out in my backyard clematis makes me lose all semblance of composure…much to the amusement of my family and neighbours).

So, we have established that there are snakes on a plane. Samuel L Jackson and a cast of other actors (who must have heard the money truck backing into their driveways to participate in this ummm, ART) try to get the snakes off the plane. With varying degrees of success. Then they do.

Fin. So what?

Well, you see, the snakes, in my world, are a metaphor for saboteurs (or gremlins, or inner critics, or resistance, or lizard brain).

Sneaky, slithery, insidious and intent on killing. Or at the very least, bringing your plane down.

It looks a little something like this:

You have this idea. This juicy, robust idea. It’s been keeping you awake for a long time now. You know that now’s the time. It’s not the perfect time - it’s the RIGHT time. You’ve done your due diligence and you are set. It’s going to blow their socks off. You envision the celebratory party, know how many cases of Veuve Cliquot you’ll need and already know what your response will be when O calls. It’s THAT good.

So you get in the plane all hopped up on adrenaline. (In the “film” the passengers were given leis before they boarded the plane. The leis were sprayed with pheromones which inconveniently made the snakes good and ravenous). Your adrenaline rouses your saboteurs. They start sniffing around and realize: holy hell…he’s about to do something. Must. Stop. Him.

They start to slither towards you….you know they’re coming and what they want.

Now what? Presumably, you’ve been told to shoot them down. Well, Samuel L tried that at first. Problem is, there are too many. They’re like, EVERYWHERE. Shoot one, another shows up. And another. And another. There’s another over there.


Now what?

Know that they don’t discriminate. This may not help a ton in the moment, but just as ravenous snakes will go after FBI agents, surfers, rappers (and their bodyguards), pilots and mile-high clubbers with equal voracity, so too do saboteurs go after us all. You, me, even Danielle. Oh yes.

Know what you’re up against. There are snakes and then there are SNAKES. By identifying some of the dead snakes via texted photo from a cell camera, agents at LAX were ready with the right anti-venom for all the different kinds of snake bites when the plane landed. Damage minimized.

For our purposes, this looks like doing a roll call of your own saboteurs. Not all are created equal and not all can be treated the same way. I always ask my coaching clients to note what their saboteurs love to tell them and ask them to give them some identifying traits. Names help too.

For instance: Nick the Nihilist looooooooves to point out what I can’t do. How I deal with him is very different from how I deal with my “what’s the use” Eeyore-looking saboteur.

Trust me. They look different, sound different and are equally disempowering. And lethal.

Know yours. Name yours. Describe yours. Know their stories. Know their habits. Know when they like to show up. And know their secret fears. Then use this intelligence on them mercilessly.

Get your team together. You don’t need to go it alone. Pull in every last resource available to you. Ask for help. Gather the best and the brightest. Your huge idea deserves nothing less.

And while Samuel L didn’t exactly have the best and the brightest on the plane with him, he DID have some pretty good ground support. AND, as it happened, the rapper’s bodyguard played so many flight simulator video games that he was able to land the plane. See? Never hurts to ask. Everyone has hidden talents. Ahem.

Get seriously intentional.

Or as Samuel L so eloquently articulated:

But. He didn’t say monkey or fighting or Monday or Friday (but you knew that).

Blow open the freakin’ windows. It’ll be messy. Watch your saboteurs get sucked away. Then get down to it. Do the work. Land your damned plane. We’re waiting for you on the tarmac with O’s people, Veuve Clicquot at the ready.