Teaching the Elephant to Dance: Empowering Change

Book by James A. Belasco

The Elephant would have to be one of the most powerful land animals on earth and is capable of huge physical force and feats of strength.

Observe an Elephant in the wild and you will see it has the ability to push down massive trees, just to get the berries from a branch out of its reach.

Yet anyone who has been to a circus or a zoo will notice that Adult Elephants are tied down with a simple rope from their leg to a stake in the ground.

To the observer this makes no sense. How can a simple rope hold down one of the world’s most powerful and majestic animals?

The fact is, it does this very successfully because the rope keeps the Elephant’s enormous strength under total control at all times.

How is this so? Wouldn’t the rope simply break or the peg leave the ground the instant the elephant applied even the smallest amount of force?

The answer is yes, it would absolutely break with little effort.

However, this would only happen if the Elephant was able to break, not the rope, but its years of training and the way it was taught to think: It’s mental rope.  Are you getting where we are going?

You see, these Elephants have been trained since they were very small that they cannot break free. To start with, the trainers use very strong chains attached to stakes dug deep into the ground.  Over the years the young Elephant begins to realise pulling and trying to escape the chain and stake is impossible.

As the Elephant grows and gets used to the idea that the stake and chain is unbreakable, the trainer can attach just about any old flimsy rope to the Elephant’s foot and tie it to a stake of limited strength (compared to the Elephant’s abilities), and the Elephant will believe it is trapped.

Elephants aren’t the only ones who forget they can dance.  From a young age, many of us are conditioned to believe ideas that keep us chained to lives that are not what we dreamed.

What are the mental ropes that are keeping you tied down?

Like the Elephant, you are a powerful being.  Many of the things we believe are holding us back can be broken through with the smallest amount of effort, once we know how.  And we can be left wondering how we let it keep us trapped for so long.

Don’t you think it is time to dance?

So how to break though and set a new course?  Vision.  The way to change your future is to begin to visualize what is possible.  

A clear picture of where you want to go is the key to mobilizing the support you need to get there.
Another important aspect of developing a vision is to anticipate and get ready to handle obstacles. They’re inevitable, and if your are not prepared, they will create anguish and undercut your ability to achieve your goals.  Common obstacles include:

• Elapsed time: Plans almost always take longer to realize than anticipated.

• Expectations: They tend to be exaggerated.

• Critics: These—often proponents of staying on the same old path around the pole—come with the territory.

• Procrastination: A reason can always be found to delay.

• Imperfection: We’ve all heard the phrase: “The perfect is the enemy of the good”: it’s important to recognize when ‘close enough’ is good enough.

It’s time to move your elephant forward and I look forward to helping you.

About the Author

Julia Mitchell is an online professional networker and a coach. Julia coaches and mentors like minded people to succeed in their chosen field and invites you to join with her.

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