“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” These words are shared by one of my favorite actors, Will Smith. At last night’s challenge group we discussed chapter 4 in Orrin Woodward’s ‘Resolved’ book discussing how to align our conscious (ant) mind with our subconscious (elephant) mind towards our vision. The ant and the elephant parable says that the conscious mind stimulates only 2,000 neurons while the subconscious mind stimulates 4 billion neurons. Both our ant and elephant needs to be fed… our ant thinks in words and our elephant thinks through images, but it is up to us if we are the ones feeding it. Sadly, because of the media – TV and advertisements, most people have lost control of their elephant, allowing someone else to program it. In chapter 4, Orrin closes with the story of Will Smith and how Smith’s example is inspiring because his ant and elephant are aligned better than any other actor in Hollywood. Even with overwhelming set backs in his life, Will Smith has 14 films that have grossed over 130 million dollars per movie. This is almost unheard of in his profession. And it is because he decided at 16 years of age that he was going to program his elephant mind.
Take a look at this video where Will Smith shares some of his wisdom and secrets to his success:
“Skill is only developed through hours and hours of beating on your craft.”
“Talent requires bettering yourself every single day.”
“You don’t start out building a wall; you say, ‘I am going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid’ and you do that every single day and soon you will have a wall.”
“If you are not making someone else’s life better, than you are wasting your time.”
“You really have to focus with all of your fiber, all of your heart and all of your creativity.”
“You can’t be scared to die for truth.”
Will Smith is an incredible example of someone who’s ant and elephant are aligned in common purpose towards his dreams. Every time I hear and read about the ant and the elephant it takes me back to my high school AAU basketball days. My coach at the time, Dave Chatmon, and now mentor in the-life-business has always had his ant and elephant aligned; even before he knew that there was such a thing.
When I was 17 going into my junior year of high school, my AAU Kenosha Wildcats basketball team had the opportunity to play in a world tournament in Maui, Hawaii. Dave had signed us up for it over a year in advance so that we could spend that year fundraising for the trip. We started out with a team of 10 participating in the trip but as time got closer 4 of the players backed out so we only ended up having 6 eligible players. I had been coming from Australia where I spent 3 weeks playing in tournaments down there and was changing planes in LA to fly straight to Maui. We knew it would be tough going down there with only 6 players because all these other teams had a full roster where they would basically beat us through sheer numbers on the bench. But we didn’t allow that to stop us from going. We ended up staying for 2 weeks where the first week we stayed at a YMCA camp that had a gym and small cabins that our team could stay at for no fee because Dave had connections with the owner of the property. I remember clearly we had been practicing in the gym and everyone was kind of emotional and tired. It was very hot those particular weeks so the combination of the heat and our disbelief that we could handle playing in all those games with teams like Walt Disney, Palos Verdes and some international teams, really got the best of us. So Dave, in his cunning way of turning lemons into lemonade told us all to go grab our pillows in the middle of practice. I knew he had been getting frustrated with us but why would we need our pillows? He told us to meet him down by the ocean front in 5 minutes. So we did, all sweaty and moody with pillows in hand.
We first had to get into a circle and he basically spent time attempting to motivate us through sometimes harsh words so that we would remember the reason why we were there. Just as girls sometimes do, it only made us more frustrated. Then, what he did next is what I feel a perfect representation of the ant and elephant aligned in common vision. He had us all lay back on the ground with our eyes facing the sky and our head rested on our pillow. He told us to close our eyes and stay quiet and to clear our minds. Then he began to walk around our little circle telling a story (as close as I can remember).
“There is this small basketball team from Kenosha, WI that signed up to play in a world tournament in Maui. They have been playing together for three years and have over 200 competitive games under their belt together. They don’t have much height, much size or even much speed but what they do have is a lot of talent and a hunger to win. They play basketball because it’s their passion. When they signed up for this tournament they thought their coach was crazy. They didn’t know how they would come up with the $20,000 it would cost to send everyone down there for two weeks and they certainly didn’t think they could even qualify to play with some of the other talented teams. They doubted themselves often but they believed in their coach and their team. This little Kenosha team had never been talked about even locally and had lost a lot of games before they started winning. But once they started to believe in themselves it didn’t matter who their opponent was, they would fight for every win and soon became the team to beat in many tournaments. Now this team is in Maui, Hawaii with only 6 players preparing to play some of the best AAU teams in the world. This was their dream. All the effort and pain it took to get to this moment was worth it because they were finally there. They are walking into their first game of the tournament ready to play. They fight for every point and every breath of air and win the first game, the 2nd and every game there forward. They win the tournament and become champions. When they arrive home they drive through the city and see billboards with their team picture showing world champions in Maui, Hawaii. Everything they had worked so hard for was respected for all to see. That little underdog team from Kenosha, WI were tournament champions.”
And then he had all of us raise both our hands into the air (eyes still closed) as he passed out a picture to each of us that was laminated. And when he told us to open our eyes we saw the billboard with the Kenosha Wildcats as world champions.
Talk about feeding the elephant! From that point forward our subconscious kept going back to what it would be like as underdogs to win the entire tournament and have our team picture on one of the billboards in Kenosha. I don’t think that image ever escaped us throughout the rest of the trip because with over 20 teams participating we managed to win 3rd place in the entire tournament. While it would have been nice to say we were champions, I truly believe that we became champions before the tournament even started because we played our hearts out that next weekend and accomplished something that we never thought we could.
That is what the ant and the elephant is all about. Visualizing what success looks like in your life, aligning your conscious and subconscious mind in unison to accomplish something great. Training yourself to see it so clearly that the victory has already taken place in your mind, it’s only a matter of time that it actually happens. What the mental fitness challenge (MFC) and the-life-business is designed to do is filter out all the garbage that is fed to us that is training our ant and elephant and provide proper nourishment through information that will get our elephants charging towards our dreams. It’s taking control of the programming of our subconscious mind. If you haven’t read Orrin Woodward’s Resolved book, I would do so immediately as your elephant depends on it.
What stories do you have that explain the concept of the ant and the elephant? I look forward to your feedback!