Elephants are the strongest land mammals in the world. With an average weight of 5,000 lbs – that’s 5 tons, the largest elephant ever recorded in history weighed 24 tons – or 24,000 lbs. Its heart alone weighs 50 lbs, its brain is 4 times the size of a human’s – larger than any other animal on land, and it has the intelligence to match. Elephants have no natural predators due to their size and their strength. And the strength of an elephant is a force to fear. With 40,000 muscles in its trunk alone, an elephant can uproot an entire tree with one swoop of its tusks – which are made out of pure ivory, and is listed as #3 on the list of the top 15 deadliest animals in the world – due to its ability to crush a human to a pulp with solely its feet. In one year alone, a single herd of elephants claimed the lives of 20,000 people after storming a village in Sri Lanka. You’d think to keep one of these majestic creatures in chains, you’d need some pretty heavy chains, right? You are wrong.
It is an emotional experience to see a chained elephant. No chain strong enough exists to keep an elephant bound. An elephant could easily break chains that bind it by exerting even miniscule force. Yet, there will you see this incredible creature solemnly standing in shackles near its post, refusing to move beyond where the length of its chain will allow – even if under extreme distress. It’s amazing and incredibly sad. Elephant trainers know that the animals are stronger than even their strongest chains. They know that it’s best to train an elephant to be chained – yes, train an elephant to be held captive, when it is very young and has not reached its full strength. The trainers chain an infant or toddler elephant. If the elephant attempts to move further away than its chains will allow, it is jerked back by the chain and stopped in its tracks. As the elephant grows, it remembers the pressure of the shackles as it tried to move further than allowed. The moment the now fully grown elephant feels the slightest pressure of the chain due to nearing ‘the end of its rope’, it remembers that means it can not go any further, and the elephant will stop. It will stop, although it is now fully capable of moving further as it desires to do and snapping the chain in half. In adulthood, a chained elephant’s captivity is completely mental. Just like the captivity you are facing, today. Welcome to The Sunday Chapter.
The Sunday Chapter: Reaching Your Potential When Under Mental Captivity
One of the things we talked about in church is the chained elephant, and how we as humans hold ourselves back from reaching our goals, aspirations, and max potential when truthfully, there is absolutely nothing holding us back from doing what we desire to do. Maybe at one point in our lives, we tried and truly gave it ‘all we’ve got’, but we still failed and failed miserably. Maybe it was enough to scar us and engrave in our minds to never ever ever try that thing again. Like the chained elephant, you were smaller, weaker, not as intelligent, not fully realized. You remember your weakness, but you aren’t aware of your strength. That’s definitely my story. Is it yours? One of the beautiful things about growth and change is that you are capable of more than you were, yesterday, because you are more than you were yesterday. You’re bigger, stronger, smarter, better. If you failed before, you’re almost guaranteed to not fail again. Then of course, there are the times in our lives when nothing really has changed. Forget about trying again to succeed after failure, there are the times when you never tried in the first place. In those times, you are still the chained elephant. You still need to break free.
I’m challenging myself – and you, to break all mental chains. I’ve had so many fears that have been holding me back. There was the fear of asking for more responsibility than given at work because I’m not as educated as I’d like and in comparison to my peers, even though I’ve heard and witnessed countless stories first hand of people who went extremely far despite that. There was the fear of opening my business because I saw no way possible I could manage that and still work effectively at my corporate job. I’ve believed I will either go out of business, get fired or both. There were spiritual fears – like not getting closer to Christ because the further away from Satan you venture, the more vehemently he fights you. There were even smaller and completely irrational fears, such as being afraid to suddenly want to spend much more time with my son. That he’d resent me or think I’m being weird. I could make this chapter 200,000 words long as I list everything (even currently) that I use as an excuse – purposefully and subconsciously, to not go after my dreams or follow my heart or try to do something to better myself or my life after I’ve tried it before, but I won’t. What I will say is that the tragic story of the chained elephant really hit home for me. I’m challenging myself to let go of all mental chains: all fears, all doubts, all criticisms, all instances of ‘post-failure trauma’. And when the chains come off, I’m going to run – fast and free, and see how far I go. I hope you run, too.
Can you relate to the chained elephant? What’s one thing in your life you’ve been wanting to do, but when you think about, you realize there’s nothing really stopping you?