The camel in the room

My #50days50lessons challenge is coming to an end. Over the past 48 days, I have shared some of my thoughts, habits, and important lessons learned from others in capoeira and life in general. I’ve frequently quoted my teachers, especially Mestre Cueca, to whom I am endlessly grateful for all the stories and knowledge.

With only 2 days remaining and 2 posts left, today, I want to share one more crucial lesson — a powerful one. Once you read it, you will recognize its potency. It’s also timeless. Life has compelled me to learn it repeatedly, revealing more details each time.

Let’s talk about the camel in the room. It’s a blend of two sayings — “the elephant in the room” and “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“The elephant in the room” refers to an important topic that everyone avoids discussing, despite its obvious presence and impact. The “camel’s back” story teaches us that major issues are often a result of a series of smaller actions or decisions. It’s not the last “straw” which broke the camel’s back, but rather a few errors in judgment repeated many times.

Major incidents are often seen as the cause of a community’s decline, but the real issue lies in the multitude of small decisions and actions that lead to that breaking point. For example, the “MeToo Movement” in the US wasn’t solely sparked by one incident but by 30 years of abuse of power, unethical leadership, and bad business practices.

“You can fool some people some times, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”

Bob Marley1

Every decision we make either leads us to success or adds a straw to the camel’s back.

Be more aware and able to zoom out, observing yourself, your group, and your work from an external perspective. Reflect on your decisions and be open to feedback.

The community’s future depends on leaders making correct decisions now. Rebuilding a community takes time, and we should strive to avoid reaching a point where the community collapses.

— From talks with Cueca


1. Perhaps Bob Marley was inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s quote: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”