The Elephant's Rope

Story

A man was walking through an elephant camp and noticed that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains. All that was holding them back from escaping the camp was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.

As the man looked at the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but weren’t trying to at all.

Curious and wanting to know more, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape. The trainer replied: “When they are very young and much smaller we used the same size rope to tie them. At that age it’s enough to hold them. As they grow, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The Point1

No matter how much the world tries to hold you back always know that what you want to achieve is possible. Believing you can succeed is the most important step in actually achieving it.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

2: Story drawn from www.wealthygorilla.com.

Michelangelo’s David and the Potential Inside

Story

The David, perhaps the world’s most famous sculpture, was created between 1501 and 1504 by Renaissance genius Michelangelo. The block of marble that became one of history’s most famous masterpieces was discarded twice by other sculptors because they believed it was too porous and fragile. When Michelangelo finally got his hands on it, the marble had been waiting more than 40 years for someone who was up to its challenge.

Michelangelo believed every block of marble had a statue inside it and the sculptor's job was to bring it out. He didn’t create the sculpture; he chipped away at the hard marble to get to the beautiful sculpture inside. He felt the same about this discarded mass.

Similarly, people often think they need to add things to themselves to be successful, they think "I'm not fast enough", "I don't have the right skills", "I need to be stronger" or “I am not attractive”. Michelangelo, however, understood that “inside” is where true potential existed.

The Point1

This story highlights the potential within all of us. Rather than thinking of yourself as needing to add or be more, think about chipping away extraneous stuff because to reveal your inner self; it has much more potential than you realize. There is a masterpiece in you. All you need is to become your own artist and find your work of art.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

Giotto's Circle

Story

Giotto was an Italian painter who lived in the 1300’s. At the time, he was becoming known as a great artist. So well, that the Pope requested that he send a painting demonstrating his ability.

Giotto drew a red circle on a piece canvas and sent it back to the Pope. The messenger who transported the painting was offended at something so simple. But, once the Pope saw it he understood. Giotto had not just painted a circle. He painted a perfect circle. So perfect, it might be assumed a compass was used, except it was only his hands.

The Pope understood that to do something so simple, so well, showed greater talent than any run-of-the-mill painting.

The Point1

Great skill is often best demonstrated through simplicity and restraint.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

Gandhi and the Boy Who Ate too Much Sugar

Story

During the 1930's, a young boy became obsessed with eating a lot of sugar. His mother was very upset with this. But no matter how much she scolded him and tried to break his habit, he continued to satisfy his sweet tooth. Being totally frustrated, she decided to take her son to see Mahatma Gandhi who was the boy's idol.

She had to walk many miles across the country, for hours under scorching sun to finally reach Gandhi's ashram. There, she recounted her difficult journey and shared with Gandhi her unpleasant situation:

"Bapu (Father), my son eats too much sugar. It is not good for his health. Would you please advise him to stop eating it? "

Gandhi listened to the woman carefully, thought for a while and replied: “Please come back after two weeks. I will talk to your son.”

The women looked confused. Then she took the boy by the hand and went home. She made the long journey home and in two weeks time made it once again as Gandhi requested. When they arrived, Gandhi looked directly at the boy and said:

"Boy, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health."

The boy nodded and promised he would not continue this habit any longer. The boy's mother was puzzled. She turned to Gandhi and asked,

"Bapu (Father), Why didn't you tell him that two weeks ago when I brought him here to see you?"

Gandhi smiled and whispered in her ears.

"Mother, that time I was not qualified to advise the little one

Because I too, was same like him, eating a lot of sugar myself two weeks ago.

"You Must First Be The Change You Want To See In This World" - Mahatma Gandhi.

The Point1

Do not ask someone to do something you are not capable of doing yourself.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

The Space Shuttle and the Horse

Story

What is the significance of 4 feet 8.5 inches?

To that answer, we go back to ancient Rome and look at one of the earliest forms of transportation. The romans first designed the Imperial Roman chariots to be just wide enough to accommodate the width of two war horses; 4 feet 8.5 inches wide. As others started to build wagons for personal or business use they noticed that ruts in the road started to become prevalent. The ruts that were most prominent were created by all the roman chariots with the exact same distance between wheels. To properly fit on the newly created paths and ruts, others built wagons to accommodate 4 feet 8.5 inches.

This spread more and more widely and as the world entered the industrial age and railroad construction began, builders leveraged the same principle. This is why the railroad gauge - the distance between the rails - is 4 feet 8.5 inches.

So, what does this have to do with space exploration?

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on the launch pad there are two large booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are the solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made in Utah by Thiokol. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit wider, but they had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad from the factory runs through a tunnel. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is only slightly wider than the railroad track that passes through it.

After nearly 2,000 years of history, a major design feature of one of the world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of two war horses’ behinds.

The Point1

There are many things we do every day but don’t know the reason why. It would be very hard to change railroads and ruts in the road at this point, but how many things in your life are you doing and you don’t know why? Is there an opportunity to reexamine the most important things in your life to determine if they are designed by an old belief or system? This is a great lead-in to discuss change, mergers and acquisitions, habits, leadership and more.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

Change Your Legacy

Story

In 1888, Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Peace prize died...well kind of.

You see, his brother Ludvig was actually the one that died but the local newspaper mistakenly ran the obituary about Alfred Nobel.
And the headline was: “The Merchant of Death is Dead.”

Why was he called the Merchant of Death? Alfred was an inventor. He was the holder of over 350 patents and had amassed his fortune by creating dynamite and ballistics (guns and ammo).

Alfred Nobel, having the rare misfortune of witnessing his own death and legacy while still alive, found himself heartbroken and determined to change his story before it was too late.

On November 27th, 1895 (one year before his death), Nobel got to work on his last will and testament hoping to reconfigure his legacy. He asked his estate to be invested in a fund, “the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”

And the Nobel Peace Prize was born.

The Point!1

It’s never too late (or too early) to start living your legacy. Nobel forever changed his legacy from “Merchant of Death” to “Peace Prize” with a series of small actions he began 378 days before his passing.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

What Really Matters in Life?

Story

A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American casually asked.

"Oh, a few hours." the Mexican fisherman replied.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American businessman then asked.

The Mexican warmly replied, "With this I have more than enough to meet my family's needs."

The businessman then became serious, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, "I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs..."

The American businessman impatiently interrupted, "Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats."

Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, "Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you'll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise."

Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, "But how long will all this take?"

After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, "Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard."

"And then what, señor?" asked the fisherman.

"Why, that's the best part!" answered the businessman with a laugh. "When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?" asked the young fisherman in disbelief.

The businessman boasted, "Then you could happily retire with all the money you've made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want."

The Point1

Know what really matters in life, and you may find that it is already much closer than you think.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

Training Can be a Matter of Life and Death

Story

Tim McCarthy is an American hero. He was a member of President Ronald Reagan's Secret Service detail on March 30, 1981.

He quotes about that day: "We arrived at the Hilton Hotel. The president gave a speech to (the Construction Trades Council). We left and were leaving the hotel, walking in a formation around the president, as is the standard protocol, when we just about got to the armored car, and as you recall, President Reagan had only been president for 60 days. There was no information that he would work a rope line or anything like that. So we were prepared to go to the car. "Just before the president got to the car, John Hinckley pushed himself forward and fired six rounds in about one and a half seconds." Video from the event shows McCarthy throwing himself in front of the president where he was shot in the chest. Someone pointed out "it would seem that one's natural reaction would be to duck. And yet, you jumped in front of the president. Was that as a result of the training you go through?"

McCarthy replied: "That's exactly right. If you saw the big picture out there, a lot of people – police officers, military -- were ducking and looking for cover. That's the training that they received. They did exactly what they should have done.

"In the Secret Service," he continued, "we're trained to cover and evacuate the president. And to cover the president, you have to get as large as you can, rather than hitting the deck. So I have to say people have asked me, and I said quite frankly, it probably had little to do with bravery and an awful lot to do with the reaction based upon the training. It was a heck of a team effort out there that day. It was people like Ray Shaddock and Jerry Parr, pushing the president into the car, other agents going to John Hinckley and helping subdue him, to help save the life of the president that day."

The Point1

The importance of good preparation and training cannot be overlooked, especially when the task is critical. We need to spend the necessary time in training and preparation. Then, when the time comes, we'll be ready.


1: This is one possible lesson to be taken from this story. There are many others; find the one that works best to make your point.

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