My friend Charley Johnson put together these thoughts on Elephant Thinking. Enjoy!
In good times, in bad times and in between times, the same rules apply. If you want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will make excuses. The future of our industry is not in some new technology or exclusive new product. It’s in the minds of the people.
The mentality that holds many people back is due to “elephant thinking.” Elephant thinking stems from when a baby elephant is strained for the circus. The baby elephant’s leg is chained to a pole in the ground. The baby elephant wants to get away. He pulls and tugs, but he can’t escape – the chain is too big and the pole is too deep in the ground. So he stops trying. As he grows up, he just assumes he can’t get away. Today, he’s a six-ton elephant. He could sneeze and pull out the chain, but he doesn’t try.
Circus trainers say they can put a piece of string around that six-ton elephant’s leg and he won’t break away. This assumed constraint (string around the ankle) is a belief you have based on past experiences, embedded in your mind at a very early age. Your parents, your siblings, your friends and your environment have all shaped you, along with things you were told you could or could not do. These same constraints are still around in your life today.
We all have invisible walls in our own minds that keep us from getting to our full potential. These walls keep us from seeing problems as opportunities. They keep us from going after what we want because we think we just can't-do it.
The first step is to admit you have a string around your ankle. Some of us have a three-inch thick steel shackle around our ankle holding us back from some amazing things. This string needs to be broken or you will be old and gray, wondering “what if?”
I see everybody attending all the same classes, the same presentations – we all have the same need to be motivated by an outside force other than ourselves. These classes promote “sales techniques” that will increase sales, new “team building” that will revolutionize your workforce, and marketing expertise from self-proclaimed experts that increased an old account by 1,000 percent.
All this info means nothing and does you no good if you are not in the right mindset. It goes in one ear and out the other. You don’t need a sales or a marketing consultant to help you increase your exposure. You need to sit down and work on yourself. You need to work on the most powerful tool you will ever have the ability to use – your own mind.
The saying “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” has nothing to do with love. It has to do with trying something out and seeing if it will work or not. It’s about taking that opportunity and failing, rather than not taking a chance at all--”What if?”
The first step in getting out of this mindset is to get out of the blame game. Stop blaming your spouse, your kids, your job, the government, the economy or whatever else people complain about to rationalize why they are not where they want to be. Too many people are in the complain-and-blame mindset, and it’s holding them back from simply taking action and making things happen. Those people who take action on their ideas, whether they fail or succeed, will be so far ahead that everyone else won’t be able to catch up.