When I was a kid, my dad worked for Anheuser-Busch. This meant that my family got free tickets to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida — which was very exciting for a kid under 10-years-old. I loved the log flume, the bumper cars, the overpriced drinks with the twisty, curly straws, the animals…
Oh, the animals! Busch Gardens always had the coolest animals. And then, there was the elephant ride. Here’s how it worked:
1. Stand in line in the sweltering Florida humidity for an undetermined period of time.
2. Finally, it’s your turn!
3. Climb atop a towering elephant (complete with swarm of flies)
4. Ride elephant in a circle
5. Get off elephant
6. Wonder “what the hell was that?”
So, here’s today’s Bitch Slap: I’m not going to ride your fucking elephant.
This one’s for all of the people who — knowingly or inadvertently — invite people in their lives along for the ride. So think about who those people are in your life right now. You can name them, can’t you?
I wake up every day knowing that I have a finite amount of time on this planet — and unbeknownst to me, it might be more finite than I might think. So what I’m not going to do is ride your elephant. I’m not going to waste my time going around in circles while you figure out what it is that you want or need to be doing. I’m not coming along for the “view from up there,” because my view from atop my kickass Ibex is fine-as-frog’s-ass-hair dandy. I am done with letting people waste my time and hold me up because I let them sell me a bill of goods.
And here’s the bitch of it: I’m the one who climbed right on top of that elephant every damned time. Like it would be different! As if some type of divine intervention wasn’t going to lead this massive beast in a circle yet again and I’d arrive at Nirvana instead of right back where I started from:
climbing on your fucking elephant and knowing that the only place I’d end up going is in circles.
I can skip seeing that circular path from 20 feet up in the air. I really can.
And it’s not like I don’t like elephants — I have one tattooed on my left arm, for all that’s holy. What I am going to start doing is looking at the elephant in the context of its symbolic imagery: a representation of wisdom.
Here’s how I think the elephant ride really goes:
Elephant: I have no idea why these people are lining up to sit on my back. I’m just going to walk in circles.
Guy riding the elephant: We’re just going in circles.
So — that’s it. Quit riding other people’s elephants. And tell them the truth when you turn them down: I’M NOT GOING TO RIDE YOUR ELEPHANT! And then tell them why.
I don’t believe in what you’re doing.
Your projects never run on-time and take away from me running my own business.
You’re shitty at project management and I feel like it’s a never-ending infomercial where I’m watching three monkeys trying to hump a soccer ball.
Or simply…say no.
But the bottom line here is, YOU are the only one who makes the decision to climb on someone else’s elephant in the first place. No one’s forcing you. You’re the one who has to make it stop.
Stop waiting on others.
Stop living other people’s Shoulds.
Stop following the paths of others.
Start living your Musts and get yourself a motherfucking Ibex. An Okapi. Whatever it is, get one of your own. Business — and life — gets from point A to Fuck Yeah by building a herd. Run with people who have goals, dreams, and Awesomeapotamuses that help you thrive so you can help them thrive in return.
Because you’ll never get to Fuck Yeah by riding other people’s circus animals.
You’ve been slapped. And you should thank Jennifer from Downing Street PR for the phrase “I’m not going to ride your elephant.” She dropped this pachyderm-flavored gem on me over coffee yesterday.