Flea circuses fascinate me. They originated in the 16th Century and continue today. It seems a scam, but fleas can be taught to perform. Professor Oddnaught with The National Geographic Society posted a YouTube video providing information on fleas and their astounding strength.
Fleas are conditioned to fulfill different roles in the circus.. Pulling fleas are trained to pull 100x their body weight. Kicking fleas propel objects through the air. Jumping fleas leap up to 80x their height.
Jumping fleas are trained by putting them in a cardboard box with a top on it. The fleas will jump up and hit the top of the cardboard box again and again. Then a change occurs. The fleas continue to jump, but they no longer jump high enough to hit the box top. Apparently, they learn the limit of the box and calibrate their jump accordingly. When the box lid is removed the fleas continue to jump, but no higher than where the lid used to be.
Many times, we condition ourselves by the limits we feel. We restrict ourselves and never stretch new heights. Just like the fleas, we fail to jump higher, thinking our current strength is our outer limit.
On my desktop I keep a 2011 Harvard Business Review article titled “Stop Holding Yourself Back.” I open the article from time to time and rededicate myself to the discipline of “jumping a little higher.” Concluding the article, Anne Morriss, Robin J. Ely, and Frances X. Frei write, “We’re quite selfishly invested in having you get out of your own way. We want to live in a world—we want our children to grow up in a world—in which your talents are fully unleashed on the issues that matter most. You should learn to recognize and overcome the self-imposed obstacles to your impact. The rest of us need you on the front lines, building better organizations.”
Click Here to view an interview with the Harvard author of “Stop Holding Yourself Back.”
Tim Rhodes is a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown, an ordained clergyman and former CEO of a $100 million multinational organization. To contact Tim, email Tim@ClownClergyCEO.com