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How to eat an elephant


Maybe you know the comical question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer: "Bite by bite!"

The background is a very relevant one for changing behaviors and corporate cultures: Most changes never happen - even if you consider them important - because people never really start.

And by "start" I don't mean that you're attending a workshop or reading a book on the subject (although these can be important preparations), but that you're really changing something about yourself.

The order is always: awareness ➔ intent to change ➔ information ➔ execution ➔ perseverance.

Steps 1-3 can be seen quite often among individuals and in companies. Even step 4 sometimes still occurs. At step 5 we lost most of the people, despite our best intentions. The elephant mentioned at the beginning still stands tall.

So how can you overcome this obstacle? Here are three steps:
  1. Simple process. Simply define the steps you want to take on yourself. Then implement them, every day. Example: If you want to be more on time in the future, set this as your goal for each day and evaluate your success in the evening. This takes 2 minutes and is very effective.
  2. Small steps. Change small things, and do this consistently. If you want to listen better, wait 3 seconds before you say anything back that is in your mind.
  3. Perseverance. Use such small behavioural changes to create a habit by repeating them over and over again. Only when you no longer have to think about the execution is the habit anchored.

You can perform the same steps with entire teams by defining small steps to be taken by each team in the future (e.g. coming to the meeting on time). Then do not allow any exceptions until the behavioural change has become a habit.

So then: enjoy your meal with the elephant!

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