The Elephant and the Rope

Value- Optimism, Truth

Sub value- Knowing one’s strength and potential, freedom

There is a story about a man who, as he was passing by some elephants, 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.

elephant with a rope

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “When they were young and much smaller , we used the same size rope to tie them; at that age it was enough to hold them. And they grew  up conditioned to believe that they couldn’t break away. They believe that the rope still holds them, so they never try to break free.”

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds, but because they believed they couldn’t, 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? Many of us can relate to this story and the feeling of having failed at something or another over the years. Over time, we begin to think that we are not capable of doing a particular thing and we accept this as the truth and limit ourselves to a very confined world. If we could look at all the so-called ‘failures’ in our lives, as just stepping stones along our path and decide to respond in a way that is positive, treat it like a process of elimination, gathering momentum and staying focused on what we would like to achieve, we will succeed. Let us not limit ourselves to a small world. Let us break free of our mental boundaries and expand out into this magnificent kingdom that we live in! We can do anything we set our heart on, if we just believe it.

Another learning from this is to free ourselves from something that ties us down. These are binding us and restricting our freedom. We begin to think that it is the ‘be all, end all’. Effort has to be put to detach ourselves with things that bind us. When we put that effort to free ourselves; we will find real freedom, happiness and peace within.

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