The prince who feared tigers

Yesterday I spent the day with an amazing group of people who work in various NHS organisations across Yorkshire and Humber. They ranged from 22 years old to 60+ and had come to take part in the ‘Guide Your Own Career’ workshop.

It’s a full day of looking at your career from a number of different angles and then focusing in on what could be the next steps for you. I love delivering this workshop and from their responses they did too.

As usual, when talking about doing things differently, facing challenges and stepping out into a new world, fears tend to pop up. Fears about capability, money, lifestyle changes etc

Fears that sound big and scary in our heads.

Fears that hold us back or that we run from.

Having worked through many of these with the group I ended the day with sharing ‘The Prince Who Feared Tigers’ story.  And (as I think it’s something that we can all relate to) I thought I would share it with you too today.
And here’s to us all facing our tigers!


The Prince Who Feared Tigers
It was the custom in his kingdom for a prince to have to kill a tiger, before he could inherit the throne. His father, the king, told him the time had come and that he must start training to kill the tiger that was ready for him in the dungeons. But the prince was so terrified at the very thought that he fled the palace.

He came to the home of a rich landowner and begged to be allowed to stay for a while. The landowner was happy to oblige. And so the prince stayed there and spent his time walking in the vast grounds, trying to collect his thoughts.

Then, one day, he noticed tigers prowling at the edge of the woods that bordered the grounds. Fearfully, he reported this to the landowner, who said ”Oh yes, they come there a lot. They don’t do any harm.”

In horror, the prince took off again and, after a long day’s walking, reached a castle guarded by an old soldier. The soldier took pity on him in his weary state and invited him in to eat with all the young soldiers inside. Soon the prince was very comfortable with them and had just started to relax, when one of the soldiers said,” We are going on a tiger hunt tomorrow! You must come with us!The prince’s blood ran cold with fear but he didn’t dare refuse. So the next day, he set out with the others but, as soon as he had a chance, he fled.

After another long day’s walking, he arrived at a palace and begged the vizier who opened the gates to take pity on him. “The king will surely welcome you,” said the vizier and sure enough, he did. He invited the prince to eat and provided him with an elegant bed chamber. Out of the window, the next morning, the prince spied the most beautiful young girl – the king’s daughter.

She was sitting in the perfect palace gardens, seemingly combing her long flowing hair. The prince found himself impelled to go towards her but, just as he came close, he realised that she was not combing her hair but stroking a tiger, which rested with its head in her lap. The prince nearly ran but forced himself not to and approached her, his legs like jelly. “You don’t have to fear my tiger,” she smiled. “He is tame. He protects us. He even prowls the palace at night and tests the doors, to make sure we are safe.”

Three nights later, the prince heard a rattle at the door. “It’s no good,” he said fearfully to himself. “There are tigers everywhere. I might as well go home and face the one I’ve got to fight, if I am to inherit the kingdom.” When he told the king he was leaving, the king said, “Remember me to your father.”
You know my father?
Yes, he stayed here once. You look very like him.”

The prince set off and at the end of his first day’s journeying, stayed at the castle again. “Remember us to your father” they said. And when he stayed again with the landowner, the landowner said the same thing.

His father was pleased when the prince told him that he was ready to face the tiger. He had armour brought to him and then the prince descended to the dungeons, where the guards released the tiger that was waiting there for him.

The prince was mortally terrified. He raised his sword, ready to strike as the tiger seemed about to leap but instead, it collapsed on the ground and rolled over, exposing its belly. The prince put away his sword and told his father that he hadn’t killed the tiger, as it didn’t seem to be a danger.

Yes, my son. The tiger appeared fierce at first, but by showing the necessary courage, you tamed it. You will inherit the kingdom. And yes, before you ask, I too had to overcome the same fears before I could tame my own tiger.”*

[bctt tweet=”What if your fears only needed courage to tame them?” username=”juleswymanuk”]


*much shortened retelling of “The Prince who Feared Tigers’ from Tales from the Bazaars by Amina Shah (Octagon Press, 2002).