Why the Elephants Don't RunA number of years ago, I had the rather unique experience of being backstage in Madison Square Garden, in New York, during the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. To say the least, it was a fascinating experience. I was able to walk around looking at the lions, tigers, giraffes and all the other circus animals. As I was passing the elephants, I suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not. I saw a trainer near by and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.
"Well," he said, "when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it's enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They think the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free."
I was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they could not, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before? How many of us are being held back by old, outdated beliefs that no longer serve us? Have you avoided trying something new because of a limiting belief? Worse, how many of us are being held back by someone else's limiting beliefs? Do you tell yourself you can't sell because your not a salesperson?
Particularly in starting or running a business, we are cautioned not to take risks, usually by well intentioned friends and family. How many of us have heard, "You can't do that?" These are the dream stealers who, due to their own limiting beliefs, will attempt to discourage you from living your dreams. You must ignore them at all cost! I am not suggesting that you should not seek advice from qualified individuals and mentors, but that you avoid like the plague, being swayed by the limiting beliefs of others, especially people who are not in their own business.
Challenge your own limiting beliefs by questioning them. If you begin to question a belief, you automatically weaken it. The more you question your limiting beliefs, the more they are weakened. It's like kicking the legs out from under a stool. Once you weaken one leg, the stool begins to lose its balance and fall. Think back to a time when you "sold" someone on yourself. We are selling all the time. You have to sell your ideas to your spouse, your children, and your employees - even your banker. Maybe, as a child, you sold Girl Scout cookies or magazine subscriptions to raise money for your school team. That was selling too!
Once you realize you are, in fact, a capable salesperson, you have weakened that old belief and began to replace it with a new, empowering one. Look for references to support the new beliefs you want to cultivate. As in the example of the stool, you want to reinforce your beliefs by adding more and more "legs" to them. Find people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish, discover what they did and model their behavior. Remember back to times in your past when you were successful and use that experience to propel yourself forward. If your challenge is in sales, read sales books and listen to tapes or attend sales seminars. This is a critical area of your business. One that cannot be undermined by limiting beliefs.
There is a technique called "fake it until you make it" that works well. I am not suggesting you live in denial, just that you begin to see yourself succeeding. Visualize your successes. See yourself vividly in your minds eye making the sale and reaching your goals. Affirm, over and over, that you are succeeding. Write your affirmations daily. Of course, make sure you take the appropriate action. As it says in the Bible, "Faith without works is dead."
Remember that your subconscious mind does not know the difference between real and imaginary. Before you go on a sales call, take a moment and mentally rehearse the scene, just like actors and athletes do. Tell yourself, "I'm a great salesperson." Do this over and over, especially just before a sales call. See the sale being made. See and feel the success. You will be pleasantly amazed at the result. Don't take my word for it. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
It has been said throughout history that what ever you believe, with conviction, you can achieve. Don't be like the poor elephant and go through your life stuck because of a limiting belief you were given or developed years ago. Take charge of your life and live it to the fullest. You deserve the best.
Jim's Jems Newsletter is copyright 1991-2004 by Jim Donovan. All rights reserved.