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.
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