By Paul Reilly

When elephants are born in captivity, it is common to restrain the animal using a rope attached to a small stake driven into the ground. The newly born calf does not yet have the strength to break free from the rope and stake. As the elephant calf grows, the same rope and stake are used to restrain the mighty elephant. Although the elephant could easily break free, it does not. The elephant is conditioned to believe that it can never break free from the rope. Elephants are one of the strongest land mammals yet can be held captive by a rope and stake driven only a few inches into the ground.

Do you feel like 2020 is your rope and stake?

The stake was driven into the ground last spring and it has been there ever since. Month after month, the stake has not budged, but you have become stronger. Like the mighty elephant, you are capable of breaking free from that stake, but will you?

Remember the elephant as you set your goals and targets for 2021. Don’t let the pain of this year influence your targets for next year. Don’t lower your expectation because 2020 was a lousy year. You will rise or fall to the expectations you set. Don’t drive that stake deeper into the ground. Look for opportunities to break free.

Challenge yourself and the assumptions you have made this year. Challenge yourself and your company to extend boundaries beyond the length of that rope. Start challenging those things you deem unchangeable or impossible. Impossibility is more relative than you think. Something is always impossible, until it’s not. When the rope is tight and the stake is driven, keep going.

Don’t magnify the misery of 2020 by setting a low bar for 2021. Dream big! Over the next few weeks, let your goals marinate. If your goals do not shock you a little, then you’re not dreaming big enough. Stop holding yourself back! Dream big, act big, and break free from that rope and stake.

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