Don't Eat All the Elephant All at Once


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This coaching tip is around helping to move on. Sometimes people get stuck and as a coach, this can be quite frustrating. So, here are some thoughts.

I was inspired by the superb Boots advertising post New Year of ‘Change One Thing’ and a top coaching suggestion from a client.

As you know, when working with people to help them move on using coaching - whether it be individuals or teams - it can be very easy for people to get stuck. Stuck in the mode of ‘It Can't Be Changed - that's the way it is!'

This leads to a sense of Apathy and the belief that things will never change.

I have always liked the expression ‘Don't Eat The Elephant All At Once. ’ It serves to remind us that if you were, for some bizarre reason, planning to eat an elephant you would do it in tiny bits.

So when working with teams or individuals and we are approaching either something big that needs to change or, we are working towards a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, we need to break it down into manageable bits.

The top coaching tip from my client was this. When someone presents a monster size goal that just seems impossible such as, ‘ I want to be Managing Director’ it can seem huge and leave us not knowing where to start. The tip is, to break that goal down into three or four tiny tiny things that we could do every day to move towards it. The really neat thing is that at the end of the year, you would have done 1000 things towards your Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

The trick is to find really tiny tiny things that can be done that just take minutes. Anthony Robbins talks about setting massive goals and telling everyone about them. Then the only difference, he claims, between the successful and the dreamer is that one of them takes ACTION.

If someone says, ‘I want to be a millionaire’ and they are pennyless at that moment, I believe that they could take tiny steps every day to get there. For example, buy a tape for the car with a successful speaker on it; look on websites of people who have made it. . .

There is always something tiny tiny that can be done to give people the feeling of achievement.

Here follows a simple activity so you can use this idea.

Team Meeting.

1. Agree what the huge thing is that we are heading towards.

2. Ask everyone to throw in ideas about tiny tiny things that can be done from today towards it (really encourage the smaller the better as it gives a sense of possibility)


Our goal is to be the best Customer Service Department.


What tiny things can we do every day to get us towards that? When are we going to start? How will we monitor ourselves?

3. Write up the mini actions underneath the big vision or goal or challenge.

4. Leave it on a wall in the office so that everyone can always see it. Serves as a constant reminder to all.

The principle coaching belief going on here is that no matter how impossible a task may appear, there is always something that can be done towards making it better. When we do this, it gives us the feeling of taking action; of eating the elephant bit by bit.

Take care,

Paul Tizzard is author of three books around Trainer and Team Development.


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