At a recent business meeting, the analogy of the elephant who broke the chain was brought to my attention. The story begins with a description of the incredible strength of an elephant. Elephants can weigh as much as 24,000 pounds and reach heights of 13 feet tall. Their trunks are strong enough to rip branches from trees but, despite their enormous power, elephants can be chained. When you consider this, it is hard to believe that such a powerful animal can be chained and confined. However, all it takes is a small chain fastened to a metal collar around the elephant’s foot attached to a wooden post nailed into the ground. This holds the elephant so strongly that it doesn’t try to break free.
You might wonder how this can happen. The answer is in conditioning from an early age. Chaining an elephant is not as easy as putting a chain on it; an adult elephant would easily break the chain. The way to chain an elephant is to start from a very early age. The baby elephant will struggle to break free, but eventually realizes that it can’t break the chain and would hurt its leg in the process. The baby elephant realizes its restrictions, accepts the fact that the rope is permanent and the struggles discontinue. As the elephant develops and becomes strong, it could easily break the chain but the chains in its mind causes the elephant to remember the struggle and, thus, the chains are never broken.
The point of this analogy is that there is an elephant within each of us. Inside of each person is an inspired being full of tremendous potential and capability. However, just as we see elephants in a circus, our internal elephants are also put in chains. From an early age, we are conditioned to follow a certain path and to adhere to social expectations and to meet societal benchmarks. We are told what is right from wrong, what classes to take, subjects to learn, sports to play, books to read, careers to pursue and so on. There are constraints that are placed in our mind of what we can and cannot do from an early age, resulting in our internal elephants.
When I spoke with the businessman I met with a couple of weeks ago, he could clearly see how passionate I was about the business ideas I presented to him. He could hear it in my voice and see it in the expressions on my face. At a certain point he intervened and told me that I was the elephant who broke the chain. I had not heard of this analogy at the time; he described it and it instantly hit home. The way he illustrated it characterized me perfectly. At this stage in my life I am not adhering to what others expect of me, rather I am formulating my own thoughts and viewpoints across every aspect of my life. I am no longer interested in following preconceived definitions of what my life should and should not be. I am living life according to my own expectations and am not allowing long-standing constraints to affect me any longer. I am doing exactly what I want to do each and every day and I am genuinely happy that I am living life on my own terms. My internal elephant has been freed.
Breaking these chains has been a liberating experience that has been years in the making. I am curious about every aspect of life and feel a new sense of meaning. While breaking the chains does not necessarily mean I will be successful as a businessman, it means I am successful as a person. This is the main point I took from the meeting. I have overcome self-doubt and limiting beliefs. We all have chains that restrict us in some way. It is up to you to overcome this by changing your mindset and realizing that you can become whatever it is you wish to be. Don’t allow years of constraint to hold you back any longer. You have only one life to live; let it be on your own terms. It will be difficult to break through these barriers but your future self will thank you. I can assure you of this. The chains can be broken but it all starts with your thoughts. Become your own version of the elephant who broke the chain.
“Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is raise your standards. What really changed my life is the change I demanded for myself. I wrote down all the things I would no longer accept in my life, all the things I would no longer tolerate, and all the things I aspired to becoming” Tony Robbins
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much” Jim Rohn