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Chief's Corner - week of Aug. 28

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Elephant Rope

A story is told of a man who was passing a herd of 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 any time, break away from their bonds however, 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," the trainer said, "when they were very young and much smaller we used 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."

These animals could at any time break free from their bonds, yet because they believed they couldn't, they were stuck right where they were, never to experience true freedom. Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something? Either because we've previously failed or because someone told us we couldn't? A wise person once said, failure is a part of learning.

Each of you has unlimited potential of which you may not even be aware. You are extremely intelligent and resourceful, and potentially hold the key to make or break issues facing you and your organization. I like to say people are like smart phones. Let me explain. That fancy gadget you hold in your hand, if used properly could revolutionize your personal life and comes with a 1,500 page instruction manual stating such. However, most of us only use it for a small percentage of what it is actually capable of doing; for example, my daughter uses hers for internet, texting and a few fitness applications...that's all. If I were to take a survey, I bet we would find the same to be true for the majority of smart-phone users.

So, does that describe you? Are you like the elephant and the underutilized smart phone, capable but content? Contentment truly is the enemy of progress. Are you content? Are there things you have been putting off or afraid to engage in for fear of failure? Do you sit in a staff meeting week after week and hear the same issues and know you have the answer but are afraid of rejection? Have you been looking at that college brochure sitting on your end table, thinking to yourself, "one day?" Does the Air Force have openings in a critically manned career field or special position and you self-eliminate without ever applying? Without question, you are better than that. You are bigger than the excuses you keep repeating to yourself as you rationalize yourself back to square one. Don't wait for someone else to break the rope; we've been down that road. Cut that rope right now, with authority. Challenge yourself and you will be surprised by what you find. After all, our United States Air Force is powered by you, and fueled by the innovation you possess. Now put this newspaper down and go out there and make a difference. Shoot me a note when you do, I would love to hear about it.

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