What You and the Circus Elephant Have in Common!

LOL! That title right? But this thought has floated around in my head all day. Ever wondered how and why a big and strong Elephant seeming agrees to remain bound? How it is controlled and not only taught, but made to participate in a circus show? Do you know how a circus Elephant is trained? They are usually brought into the circus as baby elephants. When they are babies, a rope is tied to their legs and they are tied to a metal post securely driven into the ground. Its natural instinct  is break free, so it  tries and tries, it tries to run but the rope is too tight, it is digging into its hind legs and it hurts badly. It tries again but the metal stake is too strong. Very soon the baby elephant starts to “learn” to associate breaking free with pain but more importantly he starts to learn that it is futile. It just doesn’t work!



So the baby elephant grows under these conditions and becomes a big elephant. By the time he becomes a big elephant, he is held bound not by a larger metal stake, not by a much stronger rope, but by the ones which have always held him bound. His mind has been conditioned and once his mind is conditioned, his external circumstances, his truth and his ability do not matter so much; he will be as he thinks in his mind.

All day, I have asked myself, “what do you and a circus elephant have in common?” What have I heard and believed since I was a child that I still believe and which affects how I behave in my adulthood? Was it “money does not grow on trees?” Is it the disdain with which business people were looked at, as opposed to those who worked 9 to 5 or best those who “served” by working for the government? Is it ‘all men are alike.’ Or don’t tell a woman how much you earn because she will want to spend it all? Or as the wife, “your money is your money and his money is our money?” I am sure we can all insert our own examples here, ways we have been conditioned to think, things that were said to you as you grew up that you now find yourself saying to your kids…

Sometimes, it’s not even the words we are told, like the elephant, it is the patterns we are shown. They say that only a small percent of hereditary illnesses are inherited as a result of genetics, for the most part, it is inherited lifestyle choices. It is those patterns that we see for example, that makes children from homes where parents are divorced, suffer a higher divorce rate themselves… no, it’s not genes, it’s not a curse, it’s that they have learnt unhealthy ways of resolving disputes/how to treat someone you love, by the example they saw, and when they grow up, if an intentional shift is not made, they repeat the patterns.

So, this is self-reflection for you and I. Where are you struggling; with that relationship, with that venture, with achieving those goals? Where are you allowing yourself get paralyzed by fear? Feeling like you are inadequate and can’t do it? Examine what you have believed that has gotten you where you are, then actually think of where you want to be. What heights did you think you could get to when you were a “baby elephant”, when the world was wide, free and when you had not been taught fear, when you had not been told to be realistic… Think of what your heart knows to be true- that YOU WERE MADE FOR MORE! And now go back and start to undo those beliefs, adopt an intentional posture that for you, it is possible. If it was possible for Oprah, it is possible for you. If it is possible for Mark Zuckerberg, it is possible for you. If it was possible for Steve Jobs, it is possible for you. If it is possible for Strive Masiyiwwa, it is possible for you! Look at the greatest of men in your field, look at the ones who have done what you dream of, they have 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 hands, 2 feet! You have all that the greatest of men have had, the difference between where they are and where you are, is what you choose to believe about yourself!

Start to condition yourself anew, condition yourself for success, cast off the beliefs that limit you. Like the circus elephant, we may have been conditioned in a certain way, but unlike the circus elephant, we can think, we have free will and we can decide; decide that it is thus far and no more and then we can go out and create the future we want to see!

Ciao! Stay awesome this week.



  1. There are several impression of things that our parent, environment and our religious believes have jointly conditioned our minds that is not possible to venture into. I personally have been struggling to free myself from them. We also should not put our children into such conditions so that our next generation will be better than ours.

    • Yes Mr A! We have to be intentional about creating what we want by focusing on improvement, continuous learning and feeding our minds with the tools that’ll get us where we want to go! Thank you so much for stopping by, I appreciate it.

  2. This is so true and a great read I must say. We need to be very intentional about what we want, that is the only way to make it happen. Thanks for sharing this piece . The analogy is so apt.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by Soji. Glad this spoke to you in some way! Yes, intentionality is key, if not we’ll just live life reacting to things as they happen instead of creating the outcomes we want to see.

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