“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” –Creighton Abrams
The ad tagline “I’m going to Disneyland!” has tainted Americans’ view of success. Seeing sports stars winning the big game and exclaiming they’re headed for a well-deserved vacation has planted a destructive seed, that seed being the idea that we only are successful when we reach the pinnacle of our craft. This mentality disregards the thousands of successes that had to be chained together that allowed the athlete to win the big game. The hours of practice, making the varsity team in high school, being drafted, and any other milestones along the way were successes, but we latch on to the big win as being that person’s only success.
If we only celebrate or recognize completion of end goals, we’re doing ourselves and our team members a disservice. In not recognizing the milestones that culminate in the completion of a larger goal, our team members may become discouraged. Our team members might not recognize their contributions to the bigger picture, and their performance can drop off, believing their work doesn’t matter. This is a situation that no leader wants, as that mindset is infectious to other team members.
As you set the standards for any given project, create rewards for plateaus that both motivate and celebrate the individual victories. The spirit of competitiveness can also be invoked by giving higher rewards or praise to individuals who come in with quality work under time and under budgets. It’s up to you as a leader to craft celebratory victory laps for project plateaus. In doing so, the scope of projects will feel smaller, and your team will be more motivated with shorter goals in sight. Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Achieve and Celebrate, Repeat: Accelerators
- What “elephants” do you have in your business right now that need to be broken down into bite-sized projects?
- Where and how can you use this “Project Plateau” euphemism to create short successes?
- What process can you establish so that you, your leaders, and your teammates adopt the habit of creating and celebrating short-term milestones that are tied to longer-term success?
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.