Are we stuck like these elephants?

Sudhanshu Mishra, 17 Jun 2017

I read a short story about a boy asking his father how a small rope tied to the front leg of a giant elephant makes him bound to where he is left. No chains, no cages no bondages. It was obvious that the elephants could, anytime, break free from their bonds. But for some reason, they did not.

He then 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 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 boy 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, many of us go through life, hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something. Change scares us and we don’t want to set foot on that untrodden path, even if we know we would succeed on it.

I got reminded of this story during Digit’s inception days. We used to sit around this one table in a coffee shop, for hours, downing caffeine, discussing the future that we were to shape for our company. The centre point of our discussions was how we could change the way insurance works in India today. How we could set new benchmarks for the industry.

One thing we wanted to avoid was being like those elephants who cannot see beyond that rope, who are tied to what they were conditioned for till now. We know it was easy to make another me-too insurance company, with the same processes and offerings, but that was not why we started in the first place, we had got together to break free from the shackles of the old practices.

This was not an easy task. For this philosophy to get into practice, it needed to be believed by every employee of the company, elephants move together right?. Which is why we tried to get changemakers from diverse areas of strengths and industries to make Digit into this fearless entity, ready to go down the untrodden paths.

And this feeling of standing at the cusp of the change, all together, one mind, where Simplicity, Innovation and Compassion for the customer will be central, is super dooper great!

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