Skip main navigation

The blind men and the elephant

Perspectives on entrepreneurship.
12.5
Blind Man and the Elephant
17.2
It was six men of Indostan, To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind),
28.3
That each by observation might satisfy his mind The first approached the Elephant And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side
37.9
At once began to bawl: ‘God bless me, but the Elephant Is very like a wall!’ The second, feeling of the tusk, Cried, ‘Ho! What have we here So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ‘tis mighty clear, This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear!’ The third approached the animal, And happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands,
68.8
Thus boldy up and spake: ‘I see,’ quoth he, ‘the Elephant Is very like a snake!’
80.7
The fourth reached out an eager hand
83.7
And felt about the knee: ‘What most this wondrous beast is like Is mighty plain’ quoth he, ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!’
98.8
The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
100.9
Said: ‘E’en the blindest man Can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can, This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan!’ The sixth no sooner had begun About the beast to grope, Then seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, ‘I see,’ quoth he, ‘the Elephant is very like a rope!’
131.1
And so these men of Indostan, Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion, Exceeding stiff and strong, For each was partly in the right And all were in the wrong!
149.4
The moral… So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, And prate about an Elephant, Not one of them has seen!

When we think about entrepreneurship, we commonly conjure the image of an individual setting up a new business or venture, taking risks and hoping for financial reward. It is certainly true that it is often such individuals who spot opportunities and initiate the entrepreneurial process (Nielsen et al. 2017), but that isn’t the whole story.

This is a little like the parable of the six blind men and the elephant – we often base our views on partial information and project these experiences as whole truths.

In this course, we ask you to consider that you may be partially right and may have incomplete information on what it means to be an entrepreneur.

To broaden the discussion, we will explore entrepreneurship through a range of lenses and in doing so, hopefully widen your perspective of what entrepreneurship might be in general and what it might mean to you.

Your task

Watch the video and consider if entrepreneurship is a little like this for you. We only ever get to see part of it and so our view is often skewed by a limited perception.

How would you define entrepreneurship based on your experience so far? What experiences have shaped your understanding?

Share your ideas in the comments. Explore what other learners are saying and reply with your own thoughts

Reference

Nielsen, S.L., Klyver, K., Evald, M.R. and Bager, T., (2017) Entrepreneurship in Theory and Practice: Paradoxes in Play. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

This article is from the free online

Demystifying Entrepreneurship: How to Think Like an Entrepreneur

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education