Have you seen the elephant?

A while back I came across a terrific saying that made me think about my judgment recovery business efforts over the years in a new light.

In the mid 19th century, during the California Gold Rush, the people who left their homes and way of life for the golden hills of California had a phrase for what they were about to experience: they called it “seeing the elephant.”

49ers and those planning to travel west, announced they were “going to see the elephant.” Those turning back claimed they had seen the “elephant’s tracks” or the “elephant’s tail,” and admitted they’d seen more than enough of the animal.

It’s said that this phrase originates with an old story told when elephants were still a
relatively uncommon sight in Northern America.

An old farmer, who had always aspired to see an elephant, heard a circus was coming to town and that there would most likely be elephants. He donned his best suit of clothes, loaded his farm wagon and set out on the day and a half journey to town.

On the way, he met the circus parade, which was led by an elephant. The old farmer was thrilled to finally have an opportunity to see an elephant, however, his horses were absolutely terrified.

They bolted at the strange sight – tipping over the wagon – as they ran in terror back to the farm. Not only was the old farmer stranded, but his produce and clothes were ruined beyond repair. “I don’t give a hang,” the farmer said, “for I have seen the elephant!”

In the Gold Rush days, California became symbolic for fresh starts and seeking fortunes. For these folks, the elephant symbolized both the high cost of their endeavor – the endless possibilities for fortune or misfortune either on the journey, or in California.

In retrospect, “seeing the elephant” reminds me of my early days in judgment recovery. In those days there really wasn’t a lot of information to be had about my newly chosen
profession. No one had even heard of the concept and there were very few reference materials available. I certainly felt like a pioneer.

In the beginning it seemed like I was flying by the seat of my pants more often than not, mixed in with a healthy dose of trial and error. It worked, but it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get there.

There is no question that I’ve “Seen the Elephant” on the way… I nearly saw the elephant’s tail a couple of times along the way – but I made it – and what a ride!

Many of us in business today are searching for the preferred lifestyle that comes with “seeing the elephant.” But it’s never an easy task, is it? There will definitely be some hurdles. But if there weren’t any obstacles there wouldn’t be any growth. And not everyone will make it, but those who are persistent will succeed.

Here are four important principles for claiming your dream of the lifestyle your new business can bring:

The first is to LEARN – Learn everything you possibly can about enforcing judgments – not only the concepts of marketing and the “basics” – but also the laws and statutes that govern your craft.

It’s funny that folks seem to have different expectations of the world of business than in the “real” world. In the “real” world laying out $100 bucks and getting rich is called winning the lottery. True success in any business is not a “get-rich-quick” proposition. There’s just no substitute for preparation!

The second is ACTION – It takes action and real initiative to begin a judgment recovery
business. But it takes a tremendous amount of continuing action to follow through.

Many people will purchase business programs hoping to “see the elephant.” Then they quite literally never look at those materials that could change their lives! Still others will start and give up in 30 to 60 days, when they reach their first hurdle.

Rather than giving up at your first hurdle, or even your 100th, I ask you to consider this
challenge: establish some realistic goals and then take whatever action is going to be required to reach those goals.

This is necessary for both new business owners and those who’ve been around for years. Even if you don’t get EXACTLY what you want, you’ll at the very least get closer to it.

I’ll tell you a true story… Back when I had more time on my hands than business to deal with, I set some goals. Some were realistic, but others were a little over the top. One of the goals I set was to get the home I really wanted. There was this huge house, just being built, in one of the better neighborhoods in town.

It was beautiful. 5,000 square feet, a kitchen I could happily die in, beautiful views of the
mountains… It was only $750,000 (!!!)… but that’s where I wanted to hang my hat. I got a realtor’s print out of the house and stuck it on my office wall – where I could drool over it every day and imagine myself living there.

Time passed, and as it happened I outgrew the house I was living in. I bought a truly wonderful house, and it met all of my needs, though it wasn’t my dream house on the wall. One day, while I was enjoying my deck and looking out over the meadow and creek that ran through the backyard, I happened to look up the hill – and lo and behold – I could just see my ‘dream house’ through the trees.

I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, but I got what I needed – and so can you.

I want you to examine your long-term goal. Do you have one? What is your short-term goal? So how much money do you plan to make over the next 3 months? After really thinking about it, write down a realistic number and put it someplace where you’ll see it every day.

Do you hope to replace your existing income? When? In twelve months? Eighteen months? Are you trying to break out of a rut you’ve found yourself in? When will you see the elephant?

Write it down and stick it on your refrigerator. Set ANY goal for yourself and refresh that goal in your mind at least once a day. Then, give SOME time EACH day toward making your goal a reality.

The third principle is FOCUS  – This is going to be one of the most important factors of your success. FOCUS on one step at a time. It’s just as impossible to walk from here to Hong Kong in a day as it is to accomplish everything all at once. Trying to do too much too soon is a recipe for frustration and ultimately disaster.

Work on one or two aspects of your business at a time. Pick one or two topics or methods and work at them until you KNOW them. Put 50% of each month’s earnings back into your business. Your business will grow!

Finally, you need to EXPAND – Expand yourself by exposure to good ideas that will enable you to grow. Without forgetting how important it is to stay focused, don’t be afraid to spend money on quality resources and tools for your business.

Subscribe to business and marketing newsletters. Buy publications that are specific to your industry. Continue your education. The knowledge you’d gain and implement is worth any number of times the original cost and will pay for itself many times over.

Pioneers of the Old West set out knowing only that they were going west to seek a new way of life, and hopefully realize their fortunes. At some point, they must have reached a place where they could see high and seemingly impassable mountains in the distance.

Those mountains became the new focal point. The daily grind and the harsh reality of living from the back of a wagon was carried out with those mountains slowly coming in to view. The goal would be realized, no matter what. They would “see the elephant.” Failure was simply not an option! This is the attitude it’s going to take to make it in a business.

So. What it comes down to is this: Where do you want your business to take you? It’s not going to happen all by itself…

Are you going to “see the elephant” or just the elephant’s tail?

Warm Regards,


8 thoughts on “Have you seen the elephant?

  1. WOW, something to reflect upon. I believe many people in todays world see working for themselves as the “Ultimate dream”, and wanting to be realized. Few ever do realize the dream, and even fewer realize what EXACTLY it is going to take to get to that dream. Few succeed, and many more fail. If only they had realized the “EXACT lys” that are needed to make it work.

  2. Without questions, every enterprise requires a reason, plan of action, actual work, and a mindset. This can be put into a little formula which can always be modified to accomodate different needs;

    Purpose X Plans
    _______________ = GOALS

    If we get to see the Elephant’s tail, we might as well get a little further to see the body and face, the whole enchilada while we are there!

  3. Thank you so much for that Christina. I think i needed to hear that for the new year.


  4. Christina, thank you for sharing your inspiring article, your words of wisdom are common sense neccesities to succeed in every aspect of ones life.

  5. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing in your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again very soon!