I love South East Asia.
Over the last four years I’ve been all through Vietnam and Cambodia and have had the immense priviledge and pleasure of travelling to and through Thailand 14 times with my family, where we’ve enjoyed the most wonderful experiences together in beautiful and inspiring surroundings.
These times are definitely my favourite times of the year when I get to both relax and explore with my family who have to put up with my rather hectic work schedule for the rest of the year… to learn, explore and discover with my family.
On a recent trip, I took my family to the Chiang Mai region in Northern Thailand, where mountains, jungle and amazing rivers combine to create a fantastic backdrop of colours, sights and sounds.
A true feast for the senses!
While we were there, we took an elephant jungle trek tour that allowed us an ‘elephants’ eye view of the jungle as we waded rivers, climbed hills and descended into deep valleys and gullies.
It was an amazing experience to see my children first fearful, then a little more relaxed and then outright excited and thrilled to be privileged enough to share this experience with the largest land mammal on the planet.
During one of our short stops to feed and reward the elephants with a handful of bananas and sugar cane, I noticed that the Mahout(elephant handler) simply popped a small rope on a stick into the ground and tied the elephant to it and walked off, leaving us on the elephant alone.
As I looked at the stick I wondered what foolishness must be going through this little man’s mind.
I mean, here we were, sitting on this huge mountain of muscle and raw power and the little fellow had hitched the thing to a really thin piece of rope that was tied to a stick no thicker than my thumb!
I fully expected the elephant to (in elephant-speak) laugh at this puny little thing, pull it out of the ground and walk off with my son Connor and I into the jungle never to be seen again.
But that didn’t happen.
The elephant didn’t walk off.
It didn’t even TRY to pull the stick from the ground.
It stayed exactly where it was waiting to be ‘released’ from its bondage.
When I got back to the camp, I asked the mahout about this and he explained a concept that had totally blown me away at the time, and still does to this day.
He told me “We train the elephants when they are very young by using thicker ropes and heavy beams or tree trunks. When the young elephant pulls, it is pulling against an immovable object and so soon tires and gives up.
Eventually, over a short time (and several smaller trees and sticks), the elephant stops pulling altogether, believing that the attempt is futile and will always end in failure.
It merely gives up.”
As a performance coach I couldn’t help thinking of many clients I’d worked with who were doing exactly the same thing in their lives.
People who were trained when young about what was possible and what was not when they were too weak to pull against these ideas and release themselves to being successful.
Now they’re all grown up, they’re like the elephant, unwilling to try because they’re so sure it’ll end in failure that they don’t even bother.
It made me think about about all the times I’d quit in the past and all of the people who write in to tell me of their own decision to do the same.
Everyone’s got goals, dreams and aspirations that they’ve have left by the wayside because some well-meaning friend or loved one told them ‘would only end in heartache and failure, so why bother?’ right?
Dreams that someone said were ‘silly’ or ‘childish’ or ‘unrealistic’.
But what if they’re not any of these things?
What if, just like this big, beautiful yet dumb creature we’ve have been conditioned to believe something that is totally and utterly untrue?
What if, just like the elephant, we could literally rip up the chains that are holding us down and walk off into our own jungle of success and happiness…if only we had the courage to pull, and keep on pulling in order to bring about the things we want?
We can you know!
Many, many people who once led lives of total and utter desperation now live lives that most of us would consider pure fantasy with houses, planes, boats, cars, money and above all, happiness that would never have been theirs if they hadn’t ‘pulled against the rope’ that was telling them they couldn’t possibly win.
You CAN, but will you?
Will you write that book that the small voice inside of you tells you that no-one will ever read?
Will you take that trip to those places you always dreamed of but that your wallet tells you that you can’t afford?
Will you finally lose that weight or shift that body fat that your ‘slow metabolism’ insists won’t go?
Will you buy that house, start that business, learn that language…..?
I could go on all day, but in the end, when all’s said and done, it’s you and ONLY you who can pull the stick from the ground and break free.
No-one is going to do it for you.
No-one CAN do it for you.
You, and only you have the power to do this.
(Please don’t send me any hate mail. I am not an elephant hater. On the contrary, I love and respect them. ‘Dumb’ only refers to their inability to recognise and use the awesome power that they have, yet aren’t using. : )