What is your

                 ‘ELEPHANT TETHER?’

If you are like my wife, you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about either, so I will explain.

When was the last time the Circus came to your town? Now when was the last time you saw live, exotic animals performing? Growing up, I remember the Ashton, Lennon Bros and Moscow Circuses. I believe they are still operating today but without the exotic animals as it has been banned (thank goodness) in Australia.

Back in those days, Circus animals were subjected to months on the road and confined in small cages. They were forced to live in enclosures denying them the opportunity to express their natural behaviour. Lions and tigers continually walked, back and forth in a limited four by two metre area. Elephants on the other hand were too large to be enclosed, so they were tied with a simple rope around their foot. I remember seeing this clearly and made me think at the time (as it was the strongest animal on earth) what stopped them from breaking the rope or pulling the stake out it was attached to? Let’s face it, they can push over large trees with little effort so what was holding them back?

I found out much later they could have escaped, but it would only have happened if the elephant was able to break, not the rope, but its years of training and the way it was taught to think.

Elephant trainers could not have achieved this with a wild elephant though. It was only possible with the ones at a very young age. The training began by attaching one end of a solid chain to its leg and the other end to a very deep stake. It made the baby elephant incapable of breaking it with its limited strength. After constraining it for a few years, it begins to realize that pulling and trying to escape is impossible. This is embedded in their mind and continues through adult captivity allowing the trainer to later, ‘tether’ the elephant with a slender rope tied to a broom handle knowing very well, the elephant will make no attempt to escape.

As we can all agree, humans are more intelligent than elephants but, sometimes we find ourselves tied to that ‘stake’ and have difficulty breaking loose from it.

So what is your ‘Elephant Tether’ and is it holding you back from achieving your goals?

To answer the question, ask yourself what is controlling your life. Where and when did you stop believing in yourself and was it because of something someone said to you? Why did you listen and agree, and what makes them right anyway? Maybe it was because of a previous failed attempt? Did you really fail, or did you just give up trying?

From an early age at school, I had always been terrible at English (and most other subjects come to that). I failed so many exams it stopped me from going into 4th Year High (now Grade 11). When the easy option of a job in my fathers’ painting business came about, I classed myself as ‘just a painter’ for the following sixteen years. But in 1986, I broke the ‘Tether’ around my ankle, gained confidence and respect for myself, changed my way of thinking and became ‘Not JUST A Painter’.

So if there is something holding you back, then it’s the time for you to escape the mental constraints of the ‘rope’ and begin to use your true strength and capabilities to live out your full potential. Only when you realize this and are prepared to break years of doubt about what you can and can’t do, can you truly be free. If not, you will simply join the growing number of people who are frustrated, unhappy and discontented with their current path.

No matter what your ‘Tether’ is and no matter how tightly you feel it is wrapped around your ankle, you can be strong enough to break-free from it. Remember, you can never truly fail? If you keep going, keep learning, keep changing and keep trying no matter the circumstances, you will eventually succeed.

After all the doubts I had about myself in the past, I can proudly say the ‘Elephant Tether’ is no longer attached. I have won multiple Business Awards, become an author of a best-selling book (How To Become A Really Successful Painter) am a mentor and provider of advice to painters all over Australia, I give business talks and have written over seventy articles in the Aussie Painters Network magazine.

So if you believe in yourself, put your mind to it like I did and break the chain that is holding you back.

Jim Baker


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