How to Train an Elephant
Have you ever noticed how circus elephants are tethered by a light chain that is attached to a steel spike driven into the ground?
A young elephant would have no difficulty pulling the spike out or breaking the chain, yet fully grown elephants are shackled for hours every day by a strong chain around their leg to a large block of concrete. No amount of pulling of tugging, squealing or trumpeting will set them free. As they grow older, they learn that no matter how hard they try, it’s impossible to break away from the chains. Eventually they stop trying.
They are now mentally conditioned to believe that when a chain is placed around their leg and tethered, it’s impossible to escape, no matter how light the chain or how it’s anchored. If a chain is attached, they’re imprisoned.
From the day we are born, we also conditioned by our trainers. Apart from our natural instincts, we arrive with zero knowledge and everything we do or think is a result of conditioning by ‘trainers’ – our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, bosses, politicians, religious leaders, advertisements, media and television. Have you ever considered why television programming is actually called PROGRAMMING? Most conditioning is subtle and repetitious and enters our subconscious to be stored for decision-making at a later time in our lives. While some of this conditioning is designed to keep us safe, much of it stunts our personal growth. We become tethered by mental and emotional chains.
- Our parents tell us ‘Children are to be seen and not heard.’
- Our teachers tell us ‘Only speak when you are spoken to.’
- Our friends tell us ‘Never leave a secure job.’
- Our bosses tell us to work as a team when they are doing the opposite.
- The politicians tell us ‘To be fearful.’
- Society says, ‘Pay off your mortgage and save for retirement.
The media tells us we’re not good enough. To be happy we must be slim, have perfect skin, hair and teeth and smell sweet. Their warnings are subtle and repetitious and become part of our belief system. As we grow through the steepest learning curve in our life, we are continually told what we can’t do rather than what we can achieve.
Just as the elephant is condoned to believe he can’t escape, we can easily become ‘can’t do’ people, restrained from success by repetitious negative conditioning.
The Displacement Approach
Imaging you current habits and attitudes about life are like water in a bucket. The bucket’s contents have largely been filled by others, our parents, teachers, peers, bosses, politicians, religious leaders and the media. Imaging now that each new skill and positive approach you will learn in this (re)program is a pebble that you will drop in the bucket and that the water displaced represents current negative habits and attitudes. Eventually, the pebbles will displace most of the water and your bucket will be full of the positive skills, attitudes and habits that will serve you well throughout your life.
This (re)program will give you many of the pebbles you’ll need to relate with others on a “high level”, to become a more interesting, influential, magnetic person and to help people reach positive decisions. Take one skill each day and practice it until it becomes a part of who you are. It takes 30 days of repetition to form a new habit and make it permanent. Start now to replace negative restraints with positive habits. How do you achieve this? The same way the elephant was trained; by repetitious learning, by continually practicing positive actions so that they become ‘can do’ habits.
“The sooner you become self-aware and responsible for your self-management, the sooner the awesomeness in your life will be”