Most of you who know me and follow the blog, will know that I recently returned from South Africa where I did a Safari on the back of an Elephant. I also watched them being put to bed, and I fed them from my hand for a good half an hour.
I can report that the most beautiful and humbling sound in the world is the rumbling communication they make to one another when happy. It's just simply stratospheric in scale and made my own heart do a flip. I touched their huge teeth as I fed them elephant cubes and played with the trunk, which is as sensitive and delicate with nerves, just like our fingers.
But, Before I could go with him transporting me through the bush, I had to climb on his back. To do this a platform has been built which the elephant comes along side so you can climb onto the canvas saddle.
Unlike Indian elephants who are smaller and have a longer neck, which the mahoots ride on, African elephants prefer you to sit further down on the back. The rocking motion acommpanied by the gentle snorting and communication with the other elephants in the group, was simply amazing.
The view from up there is right across the plain.
I learned that the matriarch, who is always in front, leads and the others (wanting to please her, as she is the one who doles out the discipline), simply follow everything she does. You can imagine the disaster for the guides if the lead elephant starts to run and the others follow. Elephants can turn on a dime, are surprisingly nimble and can run like the wind.
This had a great echo for me of mentoring. Something I try to instill and promote in my team and with my clients. As I often joke. I TEACH ELEPHANTS TO FLY as a business coach.
Without leadership and mentoring there is chaos and confusion.
I will return to experience that "in the moment" amazement again.
Let me know If you're keen to do this experience and I can point you to the safari guides.