On the 15th of May, in the jungle of Nool,
In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool,
He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…
When Horton the elephant heard a small noise.
So Horton stopped splashing. He looked towards the sound.
“That’s funny,” thought Horton. “There’s no one around.”
Then he heard it again! Just a very faint yelp
As if some tiny person were calling for help.
“I’ll help you,” said Horton. “But who are you? Where?”
He looked and he looked. He could see nothing there
But a small speck of dust blowing past though the air.
~Dr. Seuss: Horton Hears a Who
There is an old saying that “An elephant never forgets.” It’s referenced in Horton Hears a Who, that Horton never forgot what the Kangaroo said to him but he chose to act against what she said.
An elephant’s memory may be its very worst enemy.
There are several myths and truths related to the saying. Elephants are said to be notoriously slow learners, but once they learn something they never forget it. This has been tested by researchers using food in different types of boxes and other tests. This is also how circus trainers get elephants to do all of those tricks that an elephant naturally wouldn’t do. It’s also said that elephants never forget an injury. There are stories of an elephant attacking a circus trainer over 20 years after they had been separated because it remembered him abusing it during its training.
Trainers tie elephants to stakes when they are babies so they learn that they can’t get away. When they grow up, the trainers can tie them to stakes a few inches tall and the elephant never bothers to try to pull them up or escape because they remember. The elephant has the misconception that it couldn’t pull the stake up simply by turning its head and has no idea it could crush the stake with no effort at all.
Are we thinking like elephants?
What misconceptions from the past are we allowing to rule our day?
Like the Kangaroo says in Horton Hears a Who near the end, Everything will go back to normal if you just admit you are wrong and I am right. So how often are we laying down from what we believe just because it’s easier or less painful?
This can affect us in any aspect of our lives. In 2006, I was in a car wreck. I shattered my left knee and was told that it would take surgery plus several months of therapy for me to walk again without crutches. The doctors told me I’d never run, drive a manual transmission or use the stairs again.
For a long time, I let that one conversation rule my life. In 2008, I was rearended, totaling another car, and had to borrow a car from my dad until we could find me a new one. I got in that car and drove it for 4 days before it occurred to me it was a manual transmission. I started stretching the boundaries those doctors had put on me after that. Slowly at first. It wasn’t until I broke out of a lot of bounds in 2009, and started my own business that I started pushing a lot of boundaries.
Recently I started working with Molly Mahar who created Stratejoy, The Joy Equation and Joy Juice, to work through some of my own preconceptions and issues holding me back. I’ll let you more next week about my quarter-life crisis but I highly suggest you check out Molly’s site now.
So do you know what stakes are holding you back?
photo credit: sneakerdog