When trainers catch an elephant, they will take a strong chain and tie the elephant’s leg to a long steel pole which they drive deep into the ground. For a while, the elephant will pull and fight but they they stop because they learn that they can’t get away. Over time, the pole becomes smaller and smaller because the elephant doesn’t pull as hard. The chain becomes a rope, the pole becomes a stake, and soon they stop fighting altogether. With a fully trained elephant, a trainer will simply tie a rope to its leg and toss it to the ground, or attach it to a very small stake, and the elephant won’t even try to get away.

The elephants’ belief that they are helpless becomes so strong that it becomes even stronger than innate instinct for survival. In 1967 at a circus in Mannheim, Germany, 6 elephants died as the result of a tent fire. They were all tied to very small stakes hammered into the ground…stakes they could have easily pulled themselves free from.

What is your ball & chain?

Nobody is without their own ball & chain.

They limit you. They make you believe you’re a terrible athlete, a horrible singer, just a middle manager, not an executive, a follower not a leader. Our education system doesn’t help (Why grades in 1st grade?), our whole system of rewards and punishment is not helpful either. (Why are good grades in math more rewarded than a good performance  in dancing?)

Brands have their own ball & chain.

Amazon could have just stuck with the vision of being the world’s largest book store. Instead, they revolutionized book reading.

Zappos could have been happy becoming a profitable online shoe store. Instead, they revolutionized customer service.

Dreaming and the courage to do so, is actually tremendously important for us as individuals and companies, but also for our society. Just think what our world would look like if, for example, Einstein, explorers like Columbus, and the Brothers Wright had been “realistic” and hadn’t had the courage to dream and to pursue their dream…. It is not unlikely that we’d still be sitting in the dark at night, and that we wouldn’t be flying in metal tubes over oceans to other continents and countries at over 30,000 feet.

We have an obligation to dream.

More importantly, we have an obligation to get rid off the ball & chain.