Be Inspired! Shark Bait: Identify What's Stopping You!


During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.

As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.

Again, the shark quickly attacked.  This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off.  Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail.  Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition.  Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks.  Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack.  The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.

The Moral

All of us have gone through things in our lives that creates barriers that stop us from reaching our personal and professional goals. We then enter into a life that consists of doing the least amount needed to get by during the week and living for the weekends.  

Signs of a barrier:

  1. Procrastination.

  2. Lack of motivation and initiative to better oneself professionally/personally.

  3. Quitting when things are boring or hard.

  4. Feelings of powerlessness.

  5. Not taking personal responsibility and blaming others.

Things often said:

  1.  It’s too hard.

  2. It’s not my fault. (It’s everybody else’s).

  3. I can’t do it.

  4. It’s unfair.

Two Examples

Drew Barrymore became an instant celebrity at the age of seven after starring in E.T. Her parents soon divorced, and her violently alcoholic father was unavailable while her mother was eccentric and irresponsible. She even took Drew clubbing at age nine at the infamous Studio 54, where Drew witnessed drug use and was encouraged to dance with young famous men. By 12, Drew was in rehab, and the following year her mother locked her up in a mental institution for 18 months. At 14 Drew emancipated herself from her parents. After a few ups and downs, she managed to pick herself up and become the massively talented star that we love today.

Oprah may be a billionaire now, but the queen of daytime TV came from an extremely poor upbringing. She moved back and forth from her father to her mother, who lived in separate states. At nine, she was raped by her 19-year-old cousin. She was later sexually abused by other family members, including her uncle and her mother’s boyfriend. Finally fed up, she ran away from home at the age of 14. That same year she became pregnant and gave birth to an ill son, who died soon after he was born. She then went to live with her father, who was very strict and helped straighten her life out.

How Did They Do It?

I’m fascinated by those who overcome such horrible trauma and achieve the life they want. We’ve already talked before about how they had a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset but I also believe that THEY TOOK BACK PERSONAL POWERLESSNESS because they realized THAT THEIR DESTINIES WERE THEIR OWN made up of their OWN CHOICES, ACTIONS, AND RESPONSE TO SETBACKS AND HARD THINGS. 

Their stories reveal a truth that most never learn—YOU’RE NOT WHERE YOU ARE TODAY BECAUSE OF WHAT OTHERS HAVE DONE OR DIDN’T DO TO YOU. You’re where you are today from the choices and actions you took in the last 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, 90 days, and even yesterday even YOUR RESPONSE TO HARDSHIP AND TRAUMA. 

Your identity—how you see yourself—is either shaped by others or you can choose to take your identity and destiny into your own hands and create the life YOU want not what others have tried to impose upon you. 

5 Why’s

1.    Reflect on something you repetitively think or do that you know is negative and harming your personal or professional life. 

2.    Ask “Why do I do…” or “Why do I think this…”

3.    Answer that first why and then based on that answer, ask the next why.

4.    Repeat until you get to the fifth why. This is usually where the truth is at. 

Don’t make excuses. Don’t blame others. You’re merely uncovering the WHY behind the WHAT you’re doing or thinking. 

Just that knowledge alone is powerful enough to create some change. The next time you want to do that negative pattern, you’ll know why and can choose to NOT do it. 

Download the worksheet to go through the 5 Why’s exercise!

Download the worksheet to go through the 5 Why’s exercise!

Sherri Wilson