Education from Elephants

We humans have a tendency to assume we are at the top of the food chain and the center of the universe. Several hundred years ago, the prevailing wisdom assured us that the sun actually revolved around us, and forward thinking individuals who challenged this were actually persecuted and put to death. Today, we know that our earth is but one of many planets that revolve around our sun which is only one among countless stars in the universe.

The more we learn about the other creatures that inhabit our planet, the more we can come to understand that we can learn a lot from them.

Recently, a colleague and friend in our nation’s capital made me aware of current research that has revealed that elephants in the wild can actually distinguish among and between human voices. Scientists playing recorded human voices for elephants discovered that elephants can discern children from adults, and women from men. Further research revealed that elephants can actually distinguish different languages and can differentiate members of the Maasai tribe as opposed to the Kamba tribe.

This is not merely a circus trick but true survival for elephants as the Maasai tribe will hunt and kill elephants while the Kamba tribe does not. Once elephants learn this important information, they remember it and act upon it.

This is where we humans can take a lesson from our elephant friends. Every human being that has smoked a cigarette in the last half century has been aware of the clear warning on every package stating that cigarette smoking is dangerous and deadly. Humans are aware of this but continue to smoke. Recent financial research has shown that people filing for bankruptcy due to credit card debt are three times more likely to get back into credit card debt within a few years of the bankruptcy.

We don’t fail because we don’t know what to do. We fail because we don’t do what we know. Human beings can be aware of valuable information, learn from others, or even from their own experience but somehow either forget or overlook this knowledge in the decision-making process.

Knowledgeable people learn facts. Wise people remember facts and act accordingly. It would do an elephant no good to be able to discern a dangerous human from a harmless human if the elephant didn’t both remember it and act upon it. If we are honest with ourselves, the majority of the time when we get into trouble we either say to ourselves or speak out loud, “I knew better than that.”

As you go through your day today, remember that successful humans learn, remember, and act like elephants.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; or on Facebook at

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