“How can a tiny piece of rope hold back such a large and powerful elephant?” asked the stranger.
He was mystified.
There was no cage around the elephant. There were no heavy chains holding it back.
There was only a small rope around its ankle, surely something it could snap without any effort at all.
Yet, the powerful animal remained in place.
Then, the keeper explained something to him. “That rope was placed around the elephant’s ankle long ago, when the elephant was tiny. Back then it was actually strong enough to hold the baby elephant back.”
“Now that the elephant is much bigger and stronger,” explained the keeper, “the rope still manages to hold the elephant back. Because the elephant still believes that the rope is stronger than he is.”
Versions of the elephant and the rope story have been circulating for a long time. I have no idea if any of it is true.
But I do know that it contains a truth: beliefs can be stronger than chains.
We can impose certain limitations on ourselves that may not be true. We can over-focus on small and situational things. We can become a little to narrow in our thinking.
But, maybe now, as the new year approaches, you should step back a bit and consider a broader view.
A broader perspective on your work
Are there any tiny ropes holding you back?
One thing that’s easy to lose sight of, is your career and your work, because of that little rope called your job.
The thing is, your job is not your work. It’s not your career. It’s not your life.
Your job is just where you happen to be right now. Maybe it’s a great job. Or perhaps you wish you were doing more.
Just don’t fall for false limitations.
That’s doesn’t mean quitting. It means leaning in. Which benefits your job now, and your future.
“The company” won’t send you to training? Send yourself.
Your boss won’t give you the promotion? Find another way to make bigger contributions.
Limited opportunity to develop new skills? Commit to doing that outside of your day job. A side hustle, volunteer opportunity, or good old fashioned individual practice will help you grow.
Break the rope.
Skills and experience
You took the job to build your skills and experience.
Eventually, you developed the skills to meet your current challenges. And you gained a lot of experience along the way.
You’re settled in, which was the goal.
Now, you need to move the goalpost.
That’s how growth happens.
You need to keep growing your skills and continue building your experience.
Maybe you can find a structured way to do this. You might join a professional association. Or, even better, volunteer to help.
You might attend a local conference. Or, maybe volunteer to help work for one.
It could be that you need to be a little more creative.
You might develop leadership skills by taking on a volunteer role in a community organization.
Maybe you will take a class on Saturday mornings to learn database programming.
You might read every book you can find on marketing, and then start blogging about everything you learn.
Certainly, you will find a way to set a new goal and then work toward it.
A happy new year
It’s a good time for a fresh start. Maybe that rope has been around your ankle for a good long while.
That doesn’t matter now. What matters is what lies ahead.
Now that you see the rope is tiny, you can choose to snap it.
You can take a broader view. You can try some things.
You can gain some experience, insights, and new skills. All extremely valuable to figuring out your next career move.
You can reach for some new goals. And you can learn a lot along the way.
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