What’s got you stuck?
Consultant Bobb Beihl tells of a time he was behind the scenes of an Arizona circus and started chatting with a man who trains animals for Hollywood movies.
“How is it that you can stake down a ten-ton elephant with the same size stake that you use for this little fellow?” he asked, pointing to a baby elephant who weighed three hundred pounds.
“It’s easy,” the trainer said. “When they are babies, we stake them down. They try to tug away from the stake maybe ten thousand times before they realize that they can’t possibly get away. At that point, their ‘elephant memory’ takes over and they remember for the rest of their lives that they can’t get away from the stake.”
Have you ever stopped to consider how many “stakes” have been driven into the ground of your life, perhaps years ago, and are there to this day, tethering you to a limitation that may be more illusion that reality?
“Humans are sometimes like elephants, Biehl says. “When we are teenagers, some unthinking, insensitive, unwise person says, ‘He’s not very good at planning,’ or ‘She’s not a leader,’ or ‘Their team will never make it,’ and zap, we drive a mental stake into our minds.”
There are a few “elephant stakes” I’ve seen holding people back over the years that seem to come up over and over again.
“I’ve never been good with money.” Rearview mirrors are a lousy place to focus when you’re trying to move forward. Glance in the rearview mirror when necessary, but focus on your windshield when moving forward – both in driving and in life.
It’s good to acknowledge past mistakes but allowing those mistakes to either define you or defeat you is unnecessary.
What’s the truth? You can change. It may take time and you may need help, but you can change.
“I don’t make that much money.” And how much is enough? Usually, just a little bit more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting and trying to make more money. But when you put off taking positive financial action until some unspecified future time when you “make more money,” you’re likely to end up like this next guy.
What’s the truth? You make what you make. So make the most of your financial situation now, not later.
“It’s probably too late for me.” Too late for what? To be perfect? If that’s the standard, I’d have to agree with you.
But if you’re willing to face facts you can often improve your present situation. Most of the time when someone thinks they are too late, they’ve stopped looking at their financial situation…it’s too painful. But doing that rarely makes the pain go away…in fact, it often magnifies it.
Working with a professional, taking stock of reality and making a plan to move forward is always preferable to hiding your eyes and not looking.
“I’m not … enough.” Smart enough? Good looking enough? Glib enough? Well-connected enough? Hard-working enough?
Self-image “elephant stakes” are usually the root of all other stakes. With rare exceptions, I find most people struggling with self-confidence have forgotten (or never discovered) they are unique creations of God, made for a unique purpose to make a unique contribution to the world we live in.
When we focus on others through the lens of comparison, we become acutely aware of our weaknesses.
But when we focus on others through the lens of contribution, we begin to see our own unique strengths.
What’s the truth? You are enough. Not enough of everything…no one is. But you are enough of whom you were meant to be to make a valuable contribution to the world…a contribution that will have economic rewards.
Look down and see how many “elephant stakes” are holding you back.
Then look up and see how far you can go once you pull those puny little stakes up, leave them in your past and begin to move forward.
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