Thursday, September 27, 2018

My Friend Ohm (the Elephant)


Guest post from Brent Chapman:

I awoke from a 3 hour ride in the back seat of a Toyota sedan to the driver telling us we had arrived.  We stepped out of the car into the muggy, humid morning of a remote location 200 kilometers outside of Bangkok.  To my amazement, we were the only vehicle in the dirt parking area amongst a compound of small insignificant buildings and…elephants.  Lots and lots of elephants.  Elephants just walking around like they ran the place. (Later to find out, they actually do run the place.)

An Elephant Camp is a unique experience.  It is a collection of elephants either sold or leased to the camp. The camp trains and cares for the elephants, and allows tourists (like us) to come and visit, ride, and swim with them.  They are free to roam.  There aren’t any cages. The only exception were the baby elephants housed in a caged area.  Apparently it’s not a great idea to let a baby elephant run around unsupervised.  Imagine a 400 pound one-year-old that can move fast!?! They explained that one baby had run through the wall of a building on the property and collapsed it.

They led us in to first eat breakfast and then off to meet our elephants.  My elephant was named Ohm.  This was nothing like when you see elephants ridden at the zoo.  There were no baskets or ropes. It was just me and Ohm. They helped us get on the elephant.  They instructed us to hold on to something and advised we grab their ear lobes.  Awesome, I know I love it when a stranger tugs on my earlobes.

Then the real journey began.  They taught us the voice commands needed to control our elephant and told us to meet them down at the river. Huh?  As in, their big plan was to leave us alone with these gigantic adult elephants, and control them with the 5 minute training session we just got. To be fair, Ohm knew the route and I had to do very little but to hold on and pray I didn’t fall 10 feet off the back of my new friend.

Side note: Interesting fact, elephants are hairy.  They have prickly hair all over their neck and back and it’s uncomfortable to sit on.

The first few minutes were very intimidating and then I got comfortable. Ohm walked me around the compound (stopping to get a snack occasionally) and took me down to the river where we swam and played and it was an awesome experience.  I went from pure fear to one of the coolest experiences of my life…and all I did was take a chance.  I had confidence, I held back the fear, and I took a chance on myself (and Ohm).

And so is life…and more appropriately, this is how our day-to-day careers transpire.  We wake up to something we weren’t expecting.  An opportunity of an assignment, or an issue that we have to complete with either very little explanation or none at all.  And we are expected to succeed.  And our jobs depend on it.  And how do we do it?  We do it with confidence.  We trust what we know, we trust ourselves, we grab the task and we make it happen. And those are the moments that help us grow and learn and evolve.  Those accomplishments are the moments that we cherish and that we use to motivate us for the next challenge.

So, when you get to work this week and someone hands you your own version of taking Ohm down to the river for a swim – Don’t be afraid, jump on and enjoy the ride!

Brent Chapman, CIO of RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp, is co-author, with Kevin Brungardt, of a forthcoming book on leadership and culture. Chapman was named to the Charlotte Business Journal's 2018 40 Under 40 and has also been a finalist for both the 2018 Dallas CIO of the Year and the 2018 Charlotte CIO of the Year. For more information, please visit www.brungardtchapman.com.

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