The Elephant and the Rope

“There are no failures, just experiences and your reactions to them!” … Tom Krause


There is a story about a man who, as he was passing 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 anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.


elephant2He 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 are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, 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 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? I think every one of us can relate to this story and the feeling of having failed at something or another over the years. Over time, we can 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. We think to ourselves ‘ah I tried that before and it didn’t work out, what is the point in trying it again and wasting my time, I don’t want to look like a fool!’ And this is how we start to shrink and contract and settle for a life that is ‘safe’ and ‘less than exciting’. However, 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, saying ‘ah well, at least I tried, now I know what doesn’t work so it makes my next attempt clearer!’ Treat it like a process of elimination, gathering momentum and staying focused on what we would like to achieve, trying this way and that until we succeed!


So, don’t limit yourself to a small world, stop confining yourself to a life that is restricted, break free of your mental boundaries and expand out into this magnificent kingdom that we live in! The world is your oyster! Don’t confine yourself any longer to the belief that you can’t do something, shatter those thoughts and beliefs and spread your wings and fly! YOU can do anything you set your heart on, if you just believe it! Go on, just try it and never mind what the outcome is, just enjoy every experience you encounter in your life and embrace every bit of it! So what if it takes you 10 attempts or 100! Which will you regret more…the things you did or the things you didn’t do?! It’s all a journey so let’s make it AWESOME! You will never know how far you can go until you have the courage to do it! And if you fall, just get up again… that’s all!


So until next time,


Love from me, Marie X



0 Replies to “The Elephant and the Rope”

  1. I can relate to the main message of this short story, because your current life situation will stay the same if you never make an effort to change it. A remaining situation brings a feeling of boredom with it that influences one’s mood drastically. Also the personal motivation is affected by whether you do something for your goals or not. If you do not fight for what you want you will never know how things would have worked out by making the attempt. There are chances that will never return again. Therefore you are the own creator of your personal life story and it’s on you to decide which direction would make you the happiest. It should always be in your mind that you have nothing to lose, because in the end things will work out as they should. You just have to give them a little push from time to time.

  2. Even if you know that you may fail you should try to do your best! I think this is very important to keep in mind the whole life because it maybe will help a person who is in a hopeless situation, it will help to think positive again. It was 3 years ago when I really struggled with school, I wanted to leave. My mum was the greatest help, she tought positive! The old quotation in the story shows exactly what my mum said.

  3. It is always important to make an attempt. For example if someone wants to become a president and fails to become one, at least he can say that he tried. If he hadn’t run for president, he wouldn’t have known if he had made it. And if he won the election, he could be happy that he tried.
    The same goes for the little elephant. They will never know if they could break free if they never try to.
    If you never try, you’ll never know 😉

  4. Break free

    The short story “The elephant and the rope” is about a man, who found out that elephants are conditioned to not break free. The elephants are tied on a small rope at very young age. Growing up with the same rope they believe that they are not able to break free and have to live in this misery forever.

    The short story ends with a quotation which says:” Your attempt may fail but never fail to make an attempt.” This quote could be interpreted, that sometimes we have to try and free us from the ropes we’re held by. We have to try new things like change your way of eating or change your lifestyle in general. Even though it may not work out, you still have to try it, otherwise you will always be stuck in your bland daily routine. So don’t be afraid and try to change something. Elephants are so stuck in their believe, they are not even trying to break free. But if the thought of breaking free sparks in their enormous head, they easily can, since a rope is nothing against the power of a grown elephant.

    So break free from the ropes, try something new and enjoy the changes you are facing.

  5. This comment refers to the short story “The Elephant and the Rope”. The story tells about some elephans who are traine not to run away from their farm. When they are adults they could break away but they’re don’t because they learned it as an ‘elephant child’. The main message of the story is summarized in the quotation “Your attempt may fail, but never fail to make an attempt” Personally, I think that you have to believe in yourself in every situation. When you have to play the guitar in front of people you have to try and make the best out of it. Maybe you fail, but you have made the experience and tried it and thats the only thing which counts. Another example is that you aply for a job. Maybe the employer don’t select you but you have tried it. Every failing brings us to a new experience of which we can learn a lot!

  6. I can really relate to the main message of the story because everybody should try the things they want to, even though you know you can fail. I personally think that this is completely true because nobody should have the feeling that they are restricted. Moreover everbody should have the ability to do the things they want to because we’re living in the 21th century and nobody should be told that they can’t reach certain things. Everybody is able to reach their set goals, even if the expectations are on a high-level and even if all the others tells them they will fail. If you believe jn youself everything is possible and if you fail try it again, as long as you did it. Show everybody that you can!
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

  7. This is a beautifully written and very encouraging story. It’s true that many people fail to succeed in life just because they believe that they can’t do some things. But one also needs to recognize their talent, as well as the weaknesses.

    Go on. Break that rope.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.