Remember Disney’s Dumbo? Dumbo was a shy little elephant with ears so big he didn’t know what to do with them until he learned to fly. Now elephants can’t fly, of course. but Dumbo had a friend, a little mouse named Timothy. That mouse believed in him. The mouse gave him a magic feather and convinced his pachyderm pal that if he held onto it, he would be able to fly. And Dumbo found that he could. He flies without the magic feather and become famous for turning his weakness into his strength.
Just as Dumbo used the magic feather as his lucky charm, you use superstitions and lucky charms that you feel will help your performance. Whether it’s wearing a lucky shirt, or placing your chair a certain way, superstitions are a necessary part of your routine. What you don’t realize is that having too many superstitions or believing too strongly in them can be an extremely controlling habit and create a false dependence on something that has absolutely nothing to do with your performance.
Dumbo is a parable of optimistic self-confidence, which reflects the notion of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”, Dumbo, the little elephant with big ears, spends the first part of his young life as an outcast. When it is discovered that his ears are abnormally big, he faces cruel tormenting from the other elephants. only his mother, Mrs. Jumbo remains faithful to him. One day, however, Dumbo is tortured by some insolent children. Mrs. Jumbo attempts to defend her son, but things get out of control and Dumbo’s other is placed into solitary confinement. Dumbo is forced to become a clown and although the act is a hit, it is a source of great shame for him. The other elephants will not even acknowledge him as one of their own. Dumbo longs to have the feeling of acceptance which he lacks. Without the protection of his mother, he found himself as a victim of his elephant elders’ prejudiced disgrace. His only salvation came in the unassuming form of Timothy, who delivers the message of the power of positive thinking. With the help of Timothy, Dumbo finds that what was once the cause of so much pain became the power behind his unique gift. Knowing this power, and armed with the inspiring, unconditional support of Timothy (and the token feather), Dumbo grows to dazzle the circus (and get revenge on those who wronged him).
“Dumbo” is a children’s story with a successful message. People who believe they can succeed will. It has to do with expectations. People who understand what is expected of them, who get regular feedback on how they’re doing and who receive encouragement and coaching on their progress are far more likely to succeed than those presented with vague goals, imprecise imploring and little or no interim help and encouragement. Just as Dumbo learned to believe in himself rather than an inanimate object or meaningless habit, take time to assess your perceptions. When someone congratulates you on a good performance, do you often say, “I just was lucky,” or “I had a good referee,” or do you take credit for your win, and know that you earned it using your hard-earned skills?