If you go to Africa today, you’ll still find that much of the heavy lifting on parts of that continent is done by the elephant. You could see this mighty Behemoth, all day long trudging through the jungle carrying heavy loads on its back, carrying logs rolled up in its truck. The trainer will pull it by a string, and all day long the elephant shleps (carries) heavy loads through the jungle.
At night, the trainer ties this elephant to a peg in the ground. And if you were looking at that scene, you might be troubled by a question. The elephant is huge. The peg is not that deep and the rope isn’t that strong. The question that you might ask is why doesn’t the elephant just escape? Why doesn’t it break out, go into the jungle, forage, eat, do whatever it wants? Yet it remains fixed in that spot all night long. And the question is why?
And the reason is because when the elephant is born it weighs about 250 pounds, and the trainer ties it from day one to a peg in the ground. And the baby elephant tries to escape, but it can’t do it. It tries for a day, it tries for a week, it tries for a month, and then the elephant learns the lesson. The peg is too deep, the rope is too strong. And that lesson remains fixed in its mind throughout its life. Even when it grows to its full maturity, when it weighs 14,000 pounds, when it can plow through a cement wall like it’s paper, it remains fixed to that peg in the ground because in its limited understanding it can’t escape. Hence, it’s kept exactly in check.
I believe that that’s an apt parable for many people. Many people don’t become a fraction of what they could be. Not because they don’t have talents, not because they don’t have abilities, but because they have these limiting beliefs. And like that mighty elephant that’s held in check by a rope that’s not strong enough, but in its mind it is, many people don’t begin to appreciate their strengths, their abilities, their talents, and they’re kept in check by these limiting beliefs. And it doesn’t matter how much potential you have, it doesn’t matter how great you could be, if you think about yourself as a plain, simple Joe, a regular ordinary person, then I guarantee you will live up to exactly that which you believe.
And the single understanding that a human being must come to is that G-d did not create a single human being for mediocrity. G-d put us on this planet, gave each of us strengths, abilities, talents, and we’re supposed to reach for the stars, set our sights high. Recognize I have limitations, but I also have tremendous capacities and abilities. And I have to break away from those limiting beliefs, break out of the shackles, not be kept in check because of other people’s understandings of who I can be. I have to look into the mirror, ask myself what are my G-d-given strengths, talents, and abilities, and then set my sights high. I have to learn how to really reach for what I could be and become that which G-d put me in the planet to become.