Unbox your elephant

Apr 29, 2024

One of the greatest and most challenging lessons I’ve faced is learning not to take things to heart.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story about the elephant and the three blind men. Each man holds a different part of the elephant: trunk, ear and leg, and declares to the others what type of animal the elephant is based on the evidence in their hands.

The first man with the trunk in his hands asserts that the elephant is snake-like and agile and able to reach into hidden corners.

The second man contradicts him and says that the elephant is smooth and flat, like the wing of a bat, and can delicately glide through the air.

The third man laughs at them all and decides that the elephant is tall and round, like a great pillar.

We don’t get to hear what the elephant thinks about all this, so I rewrote the story. You can hear it on my podcast episode: Unbox your elephant.

The Elephant and the Three Blind Men story is a good reminder that we can only really describe things from our own point of view. We can’t really imagine what it’s like to truly experience something from another’s perspective because the other person is bringing his or her own sum of experiences to the table; experiences and knowledge that we haven’t had.

Which means that if another judges us or criticises another person for whatever reason, they are doing it purely from their own point of view.

People rarely do things because of you. They do it because of them, because of course that is all that is available to them. They are not privy to the entirety of what makes you you. And you aren’t able to see inside their mind and see what makes them them. And that’s okay.

I love this quote from Jay Woodman:

“Let us not take offence over small cheese, let things slide off when they don’t really matter, not take things personally, be free to make better use of our energy, to get on with something meaningful instead.”

When you master this, let me know how.