By nature of being a human being, you and I have more in common with fleas and elephants than meets the eye.

Last night, my friend Rod Gallagher (Financial Security Advisor at Freedom 55 Financial), and I were chatting about human & business performance – the limitations and opportunities that affect people on a day to day basis.

Rod told me two human performance stories that one of his mentors recently shared with him.


Let’s start with fleas, a jar, and saran wrap:

Put a bundle of fleas in a jar, and they’ll jump out.

Now put a bundle of fleas in a jar, and put saran wrap on top of the jar.

For a short while, you’ll watch them jump to the top, hit their tiny heads on the seram wrap and fall back down. They’ll continue to do this until at one point, they begin to stop jumping so high.

When this happens, take the saran wrap off, and watch what happens.

Not one flea will ever jump out.

The fleas are capable of jumping out. They just don’t believe it’s possible to.


Now, let’s talk about elephants.

In Africa, what elephant keepers do to keep elephants in a stable spot is when the elephant is a baby, they tie a rope to its neck and peg the rope into the ground.

The rope is too sturdy and strong for the baby elephant to break loose.

When the elephant grows up and becomes its mighty self, the elephant keepers can use the same rope/pegging tool.

Just like we can squeeze an empty pop can easily, the elephant’s strength could comfortably break free from the rope.

But they don’t break free.

Sadly, they don’t even try to.

Human beings operate the same way. And since they do, they operate their organizations consistent with this contained belief system.

Like many of us, as children, adults around us put saran wrap on top of the jar we were playing in. To be fair to our parents, this was needed to a certain extent. It stopped us from being hit by a car or burning ourselves on a hot stove.

Where we’re deceiving ourselves, is we’re adults now. The saran wrap got removed a while ago.

The moral? Sometimes the key to massive operational growth isn’t in honing your team’s skills better, but in knowing you can jump out of the jar at any time.

Versus growing consistent with what’s expected, why not grow consistent with what’s possible?

Andrew Schiestel is a Sr. Partner & Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a national award winning, London Ontario based web design & social media marketing agency. The company instigates and accelerates consumer action around brands, digitally.