There is a parable from India about blind men who never encountered an Elephant before. Being blind, the only way they could describe it was through touch.  Each man, having encountered a different part of the Elephant, argued with the others that an Elephant was the leg or the ear or the trunk, and in the process, they discounted the others experience.

I was raised experiencing only one part of the Elephant — let’s say it was the Back Right Leg. For years, I was taught by my parents all about the Back Right Leg.  I even went to a four year college and earned a degree about the “Back Right Leg.”  I then spent the next decade and a half telling and teaching others all about — you got it — the Back Right Leg.

Though the years, many of my friends also hung out around that Back Right Leg.  But as I got older, I started to accumulate friends who were quite committed to the Front Left Leg or the Rear Haunches.  As they shared all about the portion of the Elephant they personally experienced, I began to wonder about my limited view based on my commitment to that Back Right Leg.

And then my maturing children began to ask me about those other parts of the Elephant as well. What about the Ears?  Or the Tail?  Or the mighty and possibly dangerous Trunk?

So after much deliberation, I decided to move my hand off the Back Right Leg and meander up to the Right Flank, the Front Right Leg, even the Tusk.  And I am delighted at what I discovered — a bigger and more developed concept of this glorious and magnificent beast.

As I learned more and more about the Elephant, I found myself growing bitter about all the years I spent and wasted devoted to the Back Right Leg.  But lately, I let go of that negativity recognizing the Back Right Leg is still a part of the Elephant.  Even though I spent a lot of time there, it was not wasted as it was necessary to propel me forward in my journey.  And I should not be dismissive of those who are comfortable knowing about just one part of the whole.  That’s their journey.  Not mine.

There are times, however, when circumstances put me back in community with those whose hands have never left the Back Right Leg.  And mistakenly, they assume I’m still right there with them.  At these times, I’m not sure what to do or say to correct them. How can I tell them there is a huge Trunk up ahead?  Or the beauty of those ginormous Ears?  Most times, I allow them to believe I am only aware of the Back Right Leg and let it go at that.

But as I continue in my career as a writer, I am aware that I can no longer rest in that comfortable delusion as my growing and changing gestalt will inevitably eek into my writing.  It simply cannot be helped.  So those that knew me back in the day when I was a Back Right Leg expert might be confused, disappointed, even appalled when they pick up one of my books thinking I’m a “Back Right Leg” writer.  

I’m not.  

I’m a “Discovering The Entire Elephant” writer.

Hoping you will join me on this journey…

Comments (2)

  1. Catherine Daniel

    Terrific analogy of the development of a growth mindset!

Comments are closed.