Joseph Campbell wrote "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek".
So - a little modern story on that phrase would be in Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker (the at this point inexperienced, daring, and egotistical hero), completely ignores the warnings of his wise mentors Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi about entering a dark cave (his psyche - and I didn't have to study Carl Jung to know that) before fully completing his training.
Leaving Yoda and barreling into the dim, stank, moldy cave - Luke finds what he believes to be his nemesis, Darth Vader, and they conduct an epic battle of clashing light sabers. Battling mightily, Luke finally appears to prevail, and slices off Vader's head. Luke - frightened by his own power and unsure of what he had done gingerly approaches the masked disembodied head only to find his own face therein. This causes him great fear, a premature exit to his training, reckless behaviour, the temporary loss of his best friend (Han Solo), the destruction of the good forces of the rebellion, and his own near death experience at the hands of the real Darth Vader.
In other words - he got his butt kicked, but good.
As most of us know, Luke goes on to encounter more troubles, but he also then learned - he learned the ways of the Jedi, he did more soul searching, he saved his friends, he saved his team, he saved his father, and most importantly - he saved himself. The cave he feared to enter, led him to the treasure he sought.
Let us now bring this to 2013 - March 6th, 2013 to be specific:
2012 was a butt kicking year for me (so was '10 and '11 but that is another story...) I definitely went into more than one cave before I was ready, armed with only my life experience and my ego. I went through some unpleasant circumstances, was given difficult criticisms, and failed to meet certain personal objectives. Of course, these moments created angry and defensive postures, and my ego didn't want to have anything to do with accepting responsibility for creating these situations. I spent a lot of time telling myself about why things weren't good - that it was because of this, that, or the other thing. Some valid, some excuses. All - choices. All butt kicking, and after awhile, I tire of the kicking. It hurts, it's boring, and it must be stopped.
So - this time when I went into the cave, I was knowledgeable and ready to face the fears and look for the treasure. Among the many lessons, one was to step away from what I knew in order to learn what I didn't. My ego wanted me to believe that I knew so much because "this wasn't my first rodeo". Instead - when I put that ego aside and allowed myself to be taught
(instead of being little Miss Know-It-All"), a new world of wonder and possibilities arrived. Instead of saying "I already know that", I started asking myself "what can I learn from this?" The answer maybe nothing, but then again, it may create a breakthrough piece of knowledge that I had never considered. Also - I learned that tough criticism is part of being in any business. There are many ways to approach any issue. Not everyone will like what you do, and you won't like what they do. You need to set the ego aside, and look for the best solutions, and when someone yells - don't take it personally. They are the ones having the bad day...
I am pleased with my evolution, and plan for it to continue. 2013 challenges me, inspires me, sparks me, and delights me. It will kick my butt as well - but this time, in the more positive sense of the words. That cave I went to - it really doesn't smell very good, and I'm allergic to mold. I went there, got my treasure, and now it's time to get out and use it. In 2013 - with arms wide open, giving it my all and borrowing again from Mr. Campbell - I am going to "follow my bliss".