The HR Juggler

Day 13: Me and The Elephant

Posted on: December 13, 2012


If I had to articulate why I love curating this series of Advent blogs so much, I think the primary reason is that it feels a privilege to gain and share an insight into the lives of the people around me, both on Twitter and beyond. Somehow, it feels that what might otherwise easily remain superficial acquaintances can deepen into the beginnings of genuine friendship and understanding. Today’s post is an amazing example of exactly that and is written by Megan Peppin, who writes a wonderful thought-provoking blog and tweets as @OD_optimist.


Looking back, there’s a part of the year that is too painful to explain.  It’s something held deep inside me. It’s grief and loss, and unbearable to contemplate and too hard to name it. But it‘s also real and present and here with me now as I write. In fact, it’s been with me every minute of every day and has shaped my words, thoughts, deeds and state of mind.

After a day facilitating this week, I experienced that mixture of elation and physical exhaustion when you know that something has shifted in an organisation.  It was a day where a conversation opened up and people were honest, reflective and determined.  It was meaningful and real for the people there.  Cynicism, weariness and busyness got blown away as the energy kicked in.

At the end of it, I was just so tired.  Reflecting on the day, my co-worker introduced me to a great metaphor which having read more, comes from the Buddha.  The subconscious emotional self is an elephant, and the rational conscious self is the rider.  We are riding the elephant and the elephant is infinitely more powerful than our conscious self.  Our life’s work is to learn about our elephant and work with it.  The rational self can see further ahead than the elephant who is operating in the here and now, but the elephant is so much stronger.  It’s a big animal requiring effort and concentration to ride it.  It takes effort; It’s our emotions, feelings, deepest level of humanity and it can’t be controlled.

Oh, that elephant has been hard work for me this year, and it too has worked hard, throwing me up some conundrums and forcing me to think and rethink.  Perhaps we’re more connected that elephant and me now.  I feel different; I have never been more reflective than now.   The emotions, feelings, processes that are at play are more intense, sharper in focus.  I can see it reflecting in my work; I’m hearing more, more connected, more in the moment than ever.  I feel both stronger and weaker, vulnerable and powerful, sad, and happy.

SoMe and my engagement in it initially was a distraction, something to stop me feeling, and yet I have found something rather wonderful.  Not only the pleasure of writing as another form of expression, but the connectedness that I found through tweeting and blogging.  The kind hearts, the big brains, the well of resources, the curiosity, the thoughtfulness, the playfulness.  The challenge.  These are good things and twitter reflects the  beautiful side of the human psyche as well as the ugly.  My year of the heartbreak ache and the unexpected pleasure.

So, you and your elephant, me and mine; we’re all in the room together.  It’s us, it’s you, me.  It comes to us all, there is no “them”.

My resolve for what’s next?  Less looking ahead, more noticing and experiencing the present.

10 Responses to "Day 13: Me and The Elephant"

I was half asleep when I started reading this. I am wide awake now 🙂

I ran a session with my team recently with a recurring, “There is no they theme”.

What an uplifting piece.

Thank you.


Oh Meg, what a wonderful, open & deep yet a sensitive piece! Thank you for enriching my world. Xx

Touching. Powerful. Human. Brilliant.

Reblogged this on Thinking About Learning and commented:
This resonated with me hugely. Just hugely. I too have been riding this elephant with great unease this year, and this metaphor is really helping me to reflect on just what I’ve been experiencing.

Hi Meg, what a wonderful post and thank you for the time and thought that has gone into its creation. I love the metaphor and I feel like my elephant and I have become a lot closer over recent times. We work together more and are more attentive to each other.

What I really love about my elephant is that it gives me a shake when I need it, often when I am running a risk. While that shake may be uncomfortable at first, there is always a purpose behind it. Rather than ignore or push back, I notice it and bring myself back to the moment to find what I need to. Strange as it may seem my elephant has given me a shake this morning. I am doing too much and need to stop for breath.

Thanks Meg.

Thanks everyone for such lovely comments.

I love this post. It’s gone straight into my Evernote folder for favourite stuff. Your description of the unexpected joys of twitter and blogs is wonderful. And do beautifully written. Thanks for sharing this with us.

What an excellent post. I am into meditation but had never heard the elephant analogy. Thank you 🙂

I love your talk of things shifting – the energy that creates, and takes away too – it is a lovely feeling. With all these elephants, I think we’re going to need a bigger room 😉

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