Staked Down With a Twig

Circus elephants present a containment problem. It’s hard to keep a big elephant cage around wherever you go. So when baby circus elephants are trained, they are staked down to a pole with a chain. The young elephants pull and struggle against the chain for a while and then learn the limitations of the situation.

Soon the elephant can be staked down with a wooden stick. The elephant could easily break the confinement but it doesn’t try. It’s already learned what it can and can’t do. To add further insult to the awesome, unrecognized power of the beast, by adulthood many of the elephants can be training to pull up their own stake and move it on command and then remain in the spot that they re-staked themselves too.

I think about the circus elephant staking itself down often. Mostly when I hear my colleagues and friends talk about the obstacles that prevent them from recognizing their goals. You know what I’m talking about. All that stuff we’re waiting for before we can start really moving toward our vision for our life.


When I look at the awesome human potential that we carry around within us and then I consider the little, insignificant things we chose to see as barriers, I think about the elephant.

You and I, we don’t need to be confined by these things any more. We don’t need more money, a leadership team that understands us, a better car, a promotion, another certification, more experience, more training, a better mentor, less calls, more calls, a better shift assignment, a better partner, a better living situation or any of the other things we’ve been waiting for to start moving in the direction of our purpose. We don’t need permission or approval either.

What we do need is to look at those things and see them for what they are; tinny twigs that we have staked ourselves too. You can’t be confined by that little wooden stake. You’re to big and powerful. You have, but only, to recognize that fact. And, perhaps, come to the realization that you’re the one who staked yourself to the ground in the first place.

By the way, your trainers and handlers may not be too happy about it when you pull up that stake. Especially if they’ve been benefiting from your self-imposed confinement. So you may want to make yourself a little promise. Promise yourself that you’ll never let anyone convince you that you are powerless again.


Let’s talk about it: What twigs have you staked yourself too? What insignificant things have you convinced yourself are keeping you from having and doing everything you want? Do they still confine you? What are you going to do about it? I’d like to hear what you think in the comments section below.


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  1. Too true. Luckily for me I just have the chain and drag it around with me. I am appreciative that I have made it to where I am, mainly be doing what you have said, moving the stake. Much like resetting the bar of expectations from unreal to real and feeling the rush of confidence accomplishment carries with it.
    Ride that wave into your next “obstacle” and you will be more successful for it.


  2. Steve Whitehead says:

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve overcome this tendency. I’ll convince myself that I’ve created no false barriers in my life only to turn around and find myself face to face with an obstacle of my own creation.

    And then I’ll start the task of pulling it out.

    Thanks for the input Happy.


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