Some years ago, we had the bright idea of having an elephant on hand for a ribbon cutting. Along with various clowns, jugglers and stilt walkers, the elephant would help animate the scene of a children’s hospital opening, highlighting the idea of imagination and transformation.
The elephant truck arrived right on time—with Mekia, who would appear at the ceremony, and another elephant serving as her traveling companion. (Turns out elephants don’t like “me” time when they travel.) But as the truck pulled into the parking lot a few hours before show time, the semi trailer became lodged on the curb.
The truck was blocking the parking lot where 300 guests were about to park—we had to get it moved. The driver tried pulling up, then tried reverse, with no result. The handler got out and scratched his head. He directed the driver in a variety of moves to dislodge the trailer as my crew and our vendors gathered around, offering advice that the driver wouldn’t take. The most obvious suggestion was made in a variety of ways—lead the elephants out of the truck to lighten the load.
Armed with a career of elephant handling experience and a misguided theory of physics, the handler argued his case that removing the elephants wouldn’t help. For over an hour, he and the driver attempted all kinds of moves, none of which included asking Mekia and her friend to exit the trailer bed. What was obvious to us was completely invisible to the handler.
Finally, as tensions mounted, the handler and the driver conferred. While they were sure it wouldn’t work, they escorted the three-ton Media into the parking lot where she proceeded to toss straw on her back, unaware of the drama going on around her.
The driver jumped into the cab, started up the engine and drove right over the curb. Of course it worked. Sometimes it is the elephant in the room (or, in this case, the truck).
The elephant trainer let something he thought he knew to be true get in the way of what he wanted to accomplish. His assumptions about elephant handling and his 30 years of knowledge kept him from success.
We all have a Mekia in the back of our truck—something we think we know that keeps us from achieving success in something we want. What beliefs are holding you back? What is it that you think you know?