Lessons Learned From The Elephants – Five Secrets To Self-Development From The Noble Giants
If you listen carefully, everyone is the guru. Some agree to it, while others are more skeptical. But, what most of us learn (usually) the hard way, is that when a lesson is delivered, we owe it to ourselves to learn from it. Otherwise, this lesson will keep showing again. And again. And again.
Option number one is to realize the problem and learn from it, moving forward.
Option number two is to neglect the problem, allowing it to slow us down, destroy parts of our journey, and even derail our targets and aspirations.
For me, what always fascinated me were calm people. I am not talking about the quiet type that most of us know well. These are only the usual victims who try to survive from their bullies through their silence, distance, or passive mentality.
I am talking about those who remain calm in all adversities and stand still in any storm – a rare, admirable, extraordinary kind. They know who they are and don’t need, ask, or expect any validation for their value. They will even suffer silently and patiently. For better or worse, they possess the infinite inner strength to endure everything.
Through various rich experiences (piano, boxing, mathematics, army, business), I met and collaborated with high-caliber men and women who inspired me to this powerful mentality.
However, my first inspiration was not from a human being. It came from the largest creature in the land.
When I was still a small boy, my country banned circus shows with wild animals. But before that, a variety of mighty lions, beautiful tigers, exotic birds, skilled monkeys, and others paraded in our city.
Elephants were by far my favorite.
Back then, I had no clue that these were wild animals and were captivated for our “entertainment”.
Even though I was still very young, I will never forget this one time when a performer slipped, and the elephant stopped his choreography. The animal’s reaction was not mechanical; it was actual care to protect the tiny man beneath its huge leg.
I felt awe for this amazing creature. An important note of the story, back then I wasn’t even aware that in some cases – if not the most – animals were tortured to perform their dances and “shows” for us.
Growing older, I read more about elephants, and here are some takeaways from these noble giants.
What Elephants Taught Me Over The Years:
1. The Elephant In The Chair
The usual story infopreneurs or coaches use to persuade you on buying their products is the “elephant in the chair”. And there is a good reason for that. Everyone loves stories that they can empathize with and understand deep inside them.
For those unfamiliar with it, when baby elephants are born into elephant “farms” (this is still a thing for some countries), their feet are tied up with heavy chains and spikes near their ankles. As the baby is full of energy and curiosity – most probably also rebellion – it tries to break its chains.
After numerous futile efforts, it only injures itself. At some point, after many attempts and injuries, the baby gives up. Growing older, these elephants are tied up only with thin ropes. Of course, these ropes are useless to contain them.
However, these ropes are reminders of all the pain and agony they went through as babies. Back when they tried and failed and suffered from trying to break free.
So, this story inspired me on my personal ropes. Most of us grew up trying some things which we failed. Personally – maybe you as well – there were cases when I failed miserably. Big time.
And then, I stopped trying. After years of personal growth (and many more failures, to be honest), I retried many things that my younger self had marked as impossible and painful.
And one by one, some I conquered. And some others are in progress as I am typing this piece.
2. Elephants’ Trunk Is A Mad Gadget
Maybe it seems silly to some who will read this, but their trunk amazes me. As a youngster, I thought that they only drink water from it. I also pictured it as a huge disadvantage; how can they defend themselves from predators with that thing?
Later on, I learned that their trunk is an invaluable multitool.
It is a hook.
It is an arm.
It is a hose.
It is even a snorkel when they swim.
I am sure in the future, scientists will discover more about their trunk, as it has around 150,000 muscle units.
So elephants are fully utilizing their trunk. Good for them. What is good for us is to realize that we must, as well, use every part of us – made from stardust or not – to our advantage.
Someone probably will receive upon birth a breathtaking beauty. If that characteristic will lead to a narcissist mentality and behavior, then beauty is a huge disadvantage.
On the other hand, I think that most of us have met at least once some amazing guy/girl who, although not born with the perfect characteristics, will charm you with their character and caliber.
I tip my hat to all of you ladies and gentlemen.
3. Elephants Communicate In Many Ways
There are many times when we wanted to say more. And maybe our silence – or freeze – said more than we should have. I am sure there are people in your office or groups that you enjoy being around with, and others that you don’t.
Maybe elephants don’t work in offices, but like us, they do communicate in many ways. The main difference is that it looks like they control most (if not all) of their messages. Apart from sounds, they also use body language, touch, and scent. Although thick-skinned (around 2.5 cm) through their bones, they can detect and communicate through seismic signals.
Some years back I was a sales intern for a big company. I was in sales before, but this time it felt new in many ways. What matters to our story is that on my first few weeks doing trade visits, some of my clients conceived me as… the discount boy. If any bundles were running, they greeted me and started writing down my offers. If I didn’t have any special prices or discounts, well… a pat on my shoulder and they were back on their busy schedules.
How did I change that?
First, I gathered as much information about the market as I could. I started observing people to understand the trend. I talked with everyone. I asked many questions. And, the thing that matter the most, I listened.
Secondly, I utilized all of my available equipment (market trends, character, experience, but most importantly, a POSITIVE MENTALITY), and revisited these discount-or-leave clients with a different approach.
Before my sales days, I have read that 90% of the message is not in your actual words. It was a lesson that I finally had to learn.
So, I made some suggestions.
I gave them some explanations.
And then, I landed sales that I wasn’t expecting.
During my time as an intern, I did make some success stories to put under my belt. Most of them were from clients that on my initial 2-3 visits, I said to myself, “I am never gonna visit this guy again”.
However, with a different mindset, I discovered how to add value and create win-win relationships. I didn’t change the market or created a groundbreaking product. I didn’t invent the wheel or discovered any marketing secret.
I just changed the ways (both verbal and non-verbal) I was communicating with them. And it was all that I had to do.
4. Their Hearts Are Big In Both Means
I will stay laconic on this one.
Elephants live on packs.
They support their older ones and value their wisdom.
They honor death.
They try to help (we have spotted them calling for help over other dead animals, even predators).
We have numerous stories where they showed compassion, kindness, and altruism.
No need to stress this more.
5. Elephants Eat All Day Long
Ok, jokes on me on this one. But elephants spend 16 hours per day to feed themselves and cover their enormous energy needs.
Be like an elephant.
Maybe not necessarily thick-skinned, with remarkable memory capacity, or use dirt as sunscreen (they actually do that).
But for sure, treat yourself right, cover all your needs, and despite your strength, stay kind.