top of page

The elephant and our self limiting beliefs

My favorite memory from my years in school would have to be the field trips in high school. These trips always held a special place in my school memories. One day during such a trip, the school bus came to a halt near an open field. As we got down , we saw a herd of domestic elephants. As I neared, I noticed that each elephant was being held by a rope tied on one end to it’s front leg and on the other end to a wooden stake. No chains, no cages. I was bewildered - these enormous creatures could easily break away from their shackles but for some reason they did not, why ?

I saw a mahout, a trainer nearby and asked, “ I see these animals tied down with a thin rope. Yet, they are making no attempt to get away, why?” Now, the mahout was bewildered; perhaps no one had ever asked him such a question. He thought about it , smiled and answered “when the elephant was young , the baby elephant tried its level best to break free. Over a period of time the young elephant learns not to try at all.” Then he allowed me to touch the trunk of one elephant. As I patted it fondly, the mahout said gleefully “ Now they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

My geography teacher, who was the field trip guide was listening to our conversation. He was quite pleased and summoned all the students. “some of us” he said, “go through life hanging on to a belief that we cannot do something because like these elephants we are conditioned to believe that we cannot change our present situation. But these animals while in the wilderness were roaming freely.” Raising his voice my teacher implored all of us, “My sons, be like the wild elephant , majestic , magnificent , magnanimous, and mighty.”

Friends , I will forever remember the wise words of my teacher on that especial day. Decades later, I landed in Dallas with my wife. Both my daughters were born here and as they grew up, I started liking a especial place , a toy store called Kiddie City. Kiddie City was a supermarket up on Macarthur Road with nothing but toys. My kids would wander awe-struck through piles of toys. Sometimes the only sound I could hear was the beeping of electronic toys. I loved the sound , the sight and the sensation of toys all around us. Visiting Kiddie City was as magical for my kids as visiting the Taj Mahal by moonlight was for me. Over a period of time, the store owner became friendly with me.

However, the advent of the online marketplace negatively impacted his store. “Who will buy our merchandise when they can order in the comfort of their homes with just a click of the mouse!” He would lament. His cynicism was compounded by the naysayers who painted a bleak outlook on the horizon. I tried to reassure him. “Why don’t you try to get a slice of the cake alongside the online retailers? Why not open a store web site? You can leverage the wide variety of your store inventory and the loyal customer base.” But he never listened to me – like those elephants tied to a rope, he was conditioned to believe that he couldn’t change his situation. He simply resigned to his fate, and our beloved store shut down.

Friends, that was ten years ago. But every time I stop by the place where the store was located, I think about the elephants I saw during the field trip. Unlike those elephants tied to a rope, the store owner could have exercised his free will; yet that man never tried and became a slave to his self-limiting beliefs. I wish he had been there on the field trip and listened to my teacher and his wise words. Friends, what would you like to be, the elephants tied to their destiny or the ones roaming freely in the wild - majestic , magnificent , magnanimous, and mighty?

Speech Link

Evaluation by William Ling , TNT Toastmasters

Opening - field trips - excellent visualization!

Previous feedback: Only do one point and expand on that. You did that in this speech. Really well done taking feedback!!

You included stories - good stories - elephant story, KD Toys Store - with online stores. Toy Store closed down couldn’t do online sales.

Some people go through life hanging onto the beliefs that they cannot change

The school bus came to a halt - we saw a group of domestic elephants

I was puzzled (looked puzzled) - great body language!!

Great body language great gestures great facial expressions

Get the audience involved!

Love the ending!! Be an elephant or an elephant in the wild - magnanimous, mighty.

Need to work on speech cadence - saying words with the correct rhythm. Notice how other speakers don’t cut off words short. Get together with experience club members on that because that will get you to the next level!

Great opening, great body language, got the audience involved at the end! What I like the best is that last time Dawn Keller mentioned that it would be beneficial to have just one point and expand on that point and that’s exactly what you did!


bottom of page