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Building Community Through Better Relationships

How Do You Like Your Stake?

At 15,000 pounds and 13 feet tall, a typical elephant is by far the largest, most powerful animal on land. They regularly live to be 70 years old. According to legend, elephants are intelligent animals with long memories. Which perhaps explains why once an elephant is trained to be passive, it nearly becomes a genetic trait.

In the days of travelling circuses elephants had to be tamed before training them to perform amazing tricks. First, the baby elephant had to be separated from his mother so that the baby had no cultural ties to his power. Then, the ringleader would tie one end of a rope around the baby elephant’s leg and the other end around a stake driven into the ground. The baby elephant was not strong enough to break free from being tethered to the stake. And, because of his intelligence and long memory, the elephant retained the knowledge that he could not break free. Even, after the elephant grew into a powerful being, the learning held firm and dominated his thinking and reality.

People are also intelligent creatures with the capacity for learning and retaining. And like elephants, they can behave powerlessly when tethered to an old restraint that is more symbolic, than real. Likewise, some people are attached to stakes that keep them passive and trainable. These stakes appear in several forms: abusive parents, dysfunctional relationships, lack of formal education, alcoholism, addictions, oppressive bosses, or another hang-up du jour. With so many options the question remains: How do you like your stake?

The good news is that people do not have to like, or take, their stake at all. They can use the same capacity for learning and retaining to eliminate the stake from their lives in four steps.

1. Recognize Your Strengths
Just like elephants acquire great strength over time, so do people. Living with an open mind to learn develops many skills and attributes. These strengths can be used to destroy the limitations of the rope and stake. Mechanical aptitude, musical talent, communication skills are examples of strengths that can be channeled to successful careers, profitable hobbies, or personal growth. Work to present your specific strength to the world in such a way that contributes more financial, social, or psychological value than you are contributing right now by following some ringleader’s orders.

2. Create Your Destiny to Pursue
In addition to having a strength to develop, people need to set a course toward their destiny. If you do not know your destiny, then create one. Destinies are individual so anyone can claim one specifically for herself. Next, pursue that destiny relentlessly. Do not expect an immediate solution. A baby elephant does not wake up the day after being tethered to the stake and breaks way. You must repeatedly test your progress toward the destiny. Obviously if a growing baby elephant tries to break free of the stake every single day of his life, one day he will! Yes, your resolve will be painfully challenged along the way. And yes, there will eventually be freedom.

3. Keep Your Head Up
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help!” The more the baby elephant focuses on the stake and its oppression, the harder it will be to break free. However, people must raise their focus to the destiny that they have charted. Adversaries will call you a dreamer. The fact is that naysayers do not have dreams, consequently they want to steal yours! Keep looking to the horizon where the dream resides. You already know that the stake has you tethered to past futility. Accomplishment is in the future. Naysayers want to continue putting the rope around your leg. Upon realizing that you have outgrown their authority, then breaking free becomes easier.

4. Have Courage to Overcome
The fear of achievement will flee from the courage to overcome oppression – every time! According to Nelson Mandela, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” In the case of the baby elephant, early lessons of separation and control dictate his future. The elephant believes the stake controls him, but it is merely a physical symbol of imposed mental control. Overcome the belief and you overcome the control.

In the case of people, the symbol is typically not physical. Past choices, false assumptions, and oppressive authority represent the stake. But, it’s really imposed mental limitations that hold people back. So, how do you like your stake? Well, don’t take the stake. Choose your destiny, instead!

By Glenn Hunter
Principal, Hunter & Beyond

October 2, 2013 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , | Leave a comment