The Elephant Rope

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 13, 1993

As a man was passing the elephants, he 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.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” 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?

Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.

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28 comments
  1. Kathy said:

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  2. Amazing…………………………………………………Jamie Lee

  3. Patty O said:

    Excellent analogy! Thanks for posting!

  4. Wonderful! Agreed that we mustn’t so easily give up or give in….to fail from time to time is normal, but must get up, dust ourselves off, and try again. Sometimes things can’t be done and we too must know when to walk away from something, to try something else. But, we do often times give up too easily because putting in the effort to make something work isn’t usually so appealing, but I have found it worth it when things work out. :)

  5. It is the same with sin. The depraved man has been condition by sin. Only the Holy Spirit can decondition the sinner to break free from bondage of sin

  6. Yes! This is a compelling illustration of the power of our belief in ourselves and what we’re capable of. Thank you also for the like of my blog. I look forward to reading yours!

  7. kdcorner said:

    so true!
    may we all press past our failures.

  8. Bekah said:

    Hilarious! I love the comic, thank you for adding humor to Valentines Day! And thank you for liking my post! Make it a great day! =)

  9. Jeff said:

    Hey thanks for visiting my blog “therealprayer.” I enjoy reading my visitors’ writings. I also have a blog for teachers that have stories (parables) similar to yours. If you like the “story” angle (teaching by analogy) see that other blog as well. It’s also a WordPress blog called “spiritualteaching.” (dot wordpress, etc)

  10. As in “the litle foxes spoil the vines” in Song of Solomon somewhere, sometimes it is the littlest things that hold us back. At least it is true in my life. It is little things that hinder expansion. I usually can get past the big obstacles. I shared this with my fb friends.

  11. Gardengirl said:

    Great story. I have been running into a lot of ‘coincidences’ lately. I happen to be in the middle of a bible study about breaking our bonds and becoming free to become who God wants us to be. I’m going to print this and take it to read next week. Thanks! :)

  12. The verse that comes to mind is Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free; and be not again entangled in the chains of the enemy.” Love this post. Great visual, great lesson.

  13. What a great message! This one deserves at least four cups. Thanks for the reminder. God bless, Kenny! :)

  14. Ann Louise said:

    So very true…great illustration and a great reminder. Thank you!

  15. lilyboat said:

    wow. I just posted basically the same story where I am the elephant held by a thin string! Not that I am like the strong elephant- but how true this story is to many people who live in the old pattern. THANK YOU for this post!

  16. As small children we needed constant encouragement that we “could”, we “were able”, we were highly valued by parents and family. We had much worth. And now many seek the same kind of encouragement and affirmation of individual human worth. Except many are lost and don’t know where to look. They are held back and tied down by different things, in different, unique ways. The revelation of Jesus as real, as personal breaks free. Fellowship and discipleship builds up and constantly challenges that freedom. Self worth and self image take on heavenly dimensions as we walk the earth in our temporary bodies. Seek truth, reach our for Him and perhaps you will find Him. And the treasures and riches of Heaven will be yours. True identity and value will carry you in the Spirit of life.

  17. especially since scripture tells us that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is available to those who believe, to raise us beyond our old sinful failures. God is in the business of changing us from the inside out. thankfully!

  18. marcelino guerrero said:

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison. Great post, thanks for sharing.

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