If women leaders want to embrace their power, we must first reject baby elephant thinking. We have to throw off the shackles of learned behavior that no longer serves us.
It’s said that when a baby elephant is being trained, she is tied to a post almost immediately after birth. During the first few weeks of life she attempts to break free of her restraints, but she’s not strong enough. So she comes to believe she can’t get away from what is holding her back.
Hence, even after she has grown large and plenty powerful to uproot the post entirely. As a consequence she remains tied to the post even as an adult. Unfortunately this is due to an internally motivated behavior that is no longer rooted in external reality.
Most of us at some point in our lives, have repeated patterns of behavior that have only limited us. Maybe you became aware of your patterns and did something to change it. Or perhaps your lack of awareness has kept you stuck playing victim to life’s circumstances.
How many times have you remained stuck in your thinking?
When I was in my early 30’s, I moved to the lower 48 after spending nearly a decade living in Alaska. The remote region where I lived was physically separated from any source of civilization by the enormous ice field. I became used to the fact that I couldn’t easily leave my surroundings. The only way in and out was via float plane or boat on a really good weather day.
I then moved to a small yet highly populated island. I could drive the length and circumference of the island in under an hour. Although my years of living in Alaska were breathtakingly beautiful my ability to easily break away from living a remote lifestyle was limited and I was stuck thinking and living small.
With that said, when I moved to Colorado, I was stuck in thinking that I was confined by the boundaries of the town I was living in. I didn’t even consider taking a road trip to the next county over!
While living in Alaska, I also got used to being nestled between the mountains and the ocean. In Southeast Alaska the mountains rise right out of the ocean. So when I would hike in the mountains along the front range of Colorado and look out over the plains, I would see water or perhaps what used to be underwater.
This is an example of how my limited thinking became very conditioned by the external environment in which I lived. I was living in Colorado, far away from any ice fields or islands. Although some would argue that Boulder, CO is 10 square miles surrounded by reality.
Even though I was no longer living in remote Alaska, I still felt a sense of confinement and limitation towards embracing my power to expand my thinking and way of being.
Today, when I recollect that experience, I can see how much I struggled. During the 8 years that I lived in Boulder, I was on a journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately, I was still stuck in baby elephant thinking and living a life with limits.
Fortunately, I was able to gain enough self-awareness and the inner strength to throw off my self-imposed shackles. As a result, I reclaimed my power and decided to relocate to Denver, where I now teach women in business personal leadership development so they can embrace their power and drive business to earn their worth.
The risk you face, if you want to continue to think like an elephant will be a life where you always see your limitations. They will begin to define you and you will feel powerless to change.
The very first step to release the shackles that are holding you back is awareness. You have to become aware of the learned behaviors that are no longer serving you. Commit yourself to develop your own personal leadership. This will help you to become authentically confident, powerful and free to make a greater impact in the world.
Whether you are training a baby elephant, or going through your own training called life. I encourage you to pay attention to your self-imposed limitations. The limitations that are no longer rooted in external reality.
Please don’t think like an elephant. Unleash your power by rejecting what no longer serves you. Learn to embrace what will lead you to live a life without limits and stop thinking like a baby elephant.