When I was a kid, the Barnum and Bailey Circus would come to our town once a year. We didn’t live in a big city, so it was a huge event. One year, my dad took me backstage, behind the circus tents. I remember seeing the lions, bears, and tigers in their cages. I couldn’t believe I was so close to such fierce animals.

There was one particular animal that stood out from all the others: the elephants. Unlike the other animals who were locked away in cages, the elephants were standing uncaged, out in the open. I couldn’t believe it! If they ran away, there was no cage or anything to stop them. The only thing stopping them from escaping was a small rope around their foot and a small stake in the ground.

I thought to myself, “They could easily pick up their foot and walk away, why are they still standing there?” The reason, as you may have heard, is that elephants never forget. When the elephants are babies, they put the same rope around their foot and the same stake in the ground. For weeks, the weak baby elephants try to break free and are unable to do so. At a certain point, they quit. They assume the rope is too strong, they can’t flee, and they stop trying. They fail to realize that as they grow, they become much stronger and could easily get away.

What is the proverbial rope around your foot? What situation, due to a lack of knowledge, resources, or a bad experience, made you believe you weren’t capable and never tried again? We see this a lot in sales training, leadership, and various aspects of life. One bad experience, and the rope goes around our foot, and we never try again.

Perhaps it’s time to take a step to break free of these ropes of the past. You’re stronger now. You’re more seasoned. You have more skills. That rope can’t contain you, only you can. It’s time to change that!


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