Consider the Flea

“. . . The flea when jumping accelerates 50 times faster than a space shuttle. Although fleas cannot fly, they can jump over seven inches high and thirteen inches long, that is about one hundred and fifty times its own length. Without its outer shell it would get smashed by the velocity of the jump, and especially on its landing….” Insecta Inspecta World (

When you rolled out of bed this morning I’m sure you asked: How high can a flee jump?  No? Me either.  But, I found myself face-to-face with the answer to this fascinating question. Being somewhat creative, I wondered how I could use this useful and valuable information. So I did a little research.

I discovered that when fleas are put into a container (as in a small jar or drinking glass), the little rascals will literally jump out.  If you place a sheet of paper over the top of the container, the fleas will jump up and hit the sheet of paper then fall back to the bottom.

Here’s what’s really interesting: After several failed attempts to jump out of the container, the fleas are “mentally reconditioned” and will only leap as high the sheet of paper – even after the paper has been removed.  Their previous reality has been replaced with a new one that limits their performance.

That’s a worthy lesson for us to mull over.  I believe many of us, based on personal experiences, are held in place (in our business endeavors, spiritual growth, personal development, personal relationships, etc.) by our own self imposed limits.

In some behavior, we are like fleas. For example, we were jumping high, but we got hit hard by the economy (out of our control) and experienced difficult times. Understand that there is no physical barrier.  But lots of folk carry on as though there is a ceiling that prevents them from breaking out and experiencing any kind of new reality.

Like the flea, some high level performers learned that jumping high meant getting the snot kicked out of them, so they made mental adjustments to lessen the pain. The heartbreaking side effect of that choice is that they have also limited the hope for future high level performance.

The current (2010) economic climate…, well…, sucks. Most of the people I know have lost huge sums of money and equity. I know I have lost millions. A lot of people I know have filed for bankruptcy protection. I even know people who have committed suicide over (I presume) the loss of money, credibility, a spouse and family.

My heart truly goes out to those who feel despair. I’m empathetic – I truly feel their pain. But now, faced with the economic challenges before them, many of my friends and acquaintances have limited their options by constructing the mental barriers I previously referred to.

They are like the fleas that will not jump out of the uncovered container.  The result is, not knowing what else to do, they ask fellow fleas, “How do we break free? How can we move forward? How do we get out of this mess? How can we succeed?”

Here’s a valuable principal founded on truth:

If you want to go to escape your current limitations and feel the exhilaration found in the next level (in whatever discipline or interest you choose), don’t ask your fellow fleas what to do. If they held the answers for breaking free from the limits they now embrace, they wouldn’t be in your position.  In a worst case scenario, they will keep you from moving toward success by unconsciously doing their best to hold you where they are. Remember – misery loves company.

If you truly want to disentangle yourself from the tentacles of a limited belief system, and if you want to experience freedom from your self imposed limits, seek out those whom are not limited by your mental obstacles. Find someone, a mentor, who is where you want to be. That person can help you much more than fellow fleas sharing the same limited mindset.

Word of Caution: Thinking outside the box, and acting outside the box, may cost you some friends. Most of your fellow fleas will want you to stay within the boundaries of their comfort zone. They will say, in a variety of ways, words that project the idea:  “You can’t do that!”

When you are free of those self imposed boundaries, your “friends” may well reject you because you will not share the same mental altitude anymore. But that’s okay. Move forward.

Here’s what I suggest:

1.      Clearly define where you want to be

2.      Answer This: Who can help you get there?” and “What am I willing to give in return?

3.      Set some target dates for successes

4.      Define how you will get there

5.      Work your plan and make adjustments as needed

6.      Associates with those not limited with your mindset

7.      Take one other flea with you on your journey

It’s now up to you. What will you do? Whatever your choice, you have chosen a path.  Robert Frost concludes his famous “The Road Not Taken” by writing:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

“Somewhere ages and ages hence:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

“I took the one less travelled by,

“and that has made all the difference.”

I challenge to you is to take the “road less traveled” and shred the paper barrier.

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