Elephants, Fleas and Invisible Limits

This episode is inspired by a segment in the book Mach II With Your Hair on Fire. Written by Richard Bliss Brooke.

I hope that you take the principles and analogies that I share here on the podcast and that you share them with your teams. Whether that’s in a monthly training, weekly team calls, or in your personal mentoring sessions.

Elephant Conditioning

As the analogy goes; when elephants are young their owners will attach a large chain to their ankle and then tie that chain to something really strong. The little baby elephant will try to get away but will repeatedly feel a powerful tug on it’s ankle holding it back. Over time the ankle gets very sore and the elephant starts to associate the resistance of the tug with pain. As the elephant gets more and more conditioned it will actually stop trying to pull the chain when it feels an initial tug. Over time as the elephant grows older, the chain can be swapped out for a simple rope. And even though the elephant CAN break through the rope, it never will, because ever since it’s childhood it has learned to associate resistance with pain.

Fleas Conditioning

Similarly, fleas learn over time when put in a lid, at what height the they will hit their heads on the lid when trying to jump out. Over time, a flea trainer can actually take the lid off and the fleas will not jump out of jar. They will jump and jump and jump, but never beyond the invisible limit they’ve learned.

The lesson from these analogies: We are a lot like Elephants and Fleas. =)

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