Are You Being Distracted By The Smell Of Elephant Dung...


Or are you able to enjoy your surroundings?

Douglas Ainsley, a character played by actor Bill Nighy in the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, returns to the dilapidated Indian hotel that he hopes to see out his retirement in.

He strolls in and sees his wife, Jean (Penelope Wilton) talking to retired High Court Judge, Graham Dashwood (Tom Wilkinson).

“I went to the temple you told me about - a place of meditation and peace - it was quite stunning! Douglas tells Graham.

“So spiritual, I bet you never noticed the smell of elephant dung!!!” replies his disenchanted wife.

Are you satisfied with a bad situation?

In his book, Failing Forward, John Maxwell talks about failure being an “inside job”.

For many of us living in a Western culture, there is a belief that contentment comes from attaining material possessions or positions of power.  What if you were facing the stark contrast of life in India, where some of these Western icons and trophies were not readily available.

Would you, like Douglas, be able to enjoy the beauty of the temple without being distracted by the smell of the elephant dung?
What does it take to keep you content?

Contentment comes from having a positive attitude.  Here are five things that John Maxwell encourages us to consider to help us become content in life:

1. Expecting the best in everything – not the worst.

What lenses do you use to look at life through?  Most people talk about being a 'glass-half-full' versus a 'glass-half-empty' person.  I'll challenge you to think of life as either a 'big pie' as opposed to 'little pie' - where opportunities are abundant!

2. Remaining upbeat – even when you get beat up.

What techniques do you use to keep yourself upbeat?  Life will throw you curve balls, and you can guarantee that at some time or another, you will fail.  Do you have somebody that you can turn to at times of defeat to get a check-up from the neck-up?  If you don't already have a coach in place, may I encourage you to look at engaging one sooner rather than later.

3. Seeing solutions in every problem – not problems in every solution.

I remember hearing a very successful leader in the Amway business give an example of her staff member coming to her to advise that a particular travel request was impossible to implement.  She looked at that individual and said, "I pay you to find the solutions for me, not to bring me the problems?" What are you doing to be more solution focused.  Do you exhaustevery avenue before you report back?  I was once told that I should never return unless I had at least 2 or 3 alternative options for consideration.

4. Believing in yourself – even when others believe you’ve failed.

When I was growing up, I was constantly told that I was an idiot by my father.  This led me to a series of self-destructive actions, that led to many failures in my life.  Reading the book "The Magic of Thinking Big" by David Schwartz was a turning point in my ability to believe in myself and break through some of my self-limiting beliefs.  What books are you reading to help you make your breakthroughs?

5. Holding on to hope – even when others say it’s hopeless.

They say that faith is 'speaking AND believing'.  What do you say about yourself and your situation ... and does your thinking match it word for word?  I love the scripture in Ephesians 3:20 that says "Now to Him [God] who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us".  What IF you could have a situation that you speak to and believe in being answered - what would you ask for in faith?

Hold on to the vision of what surrounds you and do not get distracted by the smell of the elephant dung!

Elias Kanaris


Elias Kanaris is an expert in lifting the lid on leadership by focussing on ethical business practice.

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