Train the elephant while he is young, for he will never forget. At least, that's how this story goes that I heard in India.
When an elephant is very young and small, their trainer ties them to a tree with a thick rope.
The baby elephant struggles and struggles - but is not strong enough.
Soon the elephant learns that his strength is no match for the rope.
He accepts his fate, gives up - and gets used to the idea that this rope can hold him.
As the elephant grows, even a simple string is enough to hold him without resistance. He dares not struggle, remembering the rope that he could not break many years ago.
Though the string has no chance of holding the elephant, he does not realize that: he has convinced himself that it is stronger than him, and he never even tries.
For many people, the failure from past events is what they remember. The memory of weakness, of not being strong enough stops them from even attempting to overcome challenges in their lives, even though their strength is much stronger now.
They never forget - and just like the elephant who will not try to break the string, they shy away from challenges in their lives that they could overcome - if they would only try.