Today, I want to talk about the elephant in the room. Not that I have one at the moment, but the metaphor has always been interesting to me.
We also use elephants in another metaphor about big problems – How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
But my daughter has always loved elephants and has quite the cute and cuddly collection that she’s now sharing with my grand kids.
And I know elephants in the wild can at times be ferocious, but Elephants aren’t predators. We use the metaphor “elephant in the room” because its actually something that we can ignore, despite the tension.
And eating an elephant, even one bite at a time, is a big job that is unpleasant, but if you don’t finish, you can’t really expect the elephant to eat you.
When I teach problem solving, and people want to start off with these giant problems that haven’t really been clearly defined, I usually talk about a T Rex instead of an elephant.
I don’t want to be able to ignore a problem like the elephant in the room, so let’s make it a T Rex and decide what we’re going to do with it before it eats us (which problems are likely to do if they go unsolved.)
If we decide to eat the t rex, then we also have to decide where to start. If we start in the toughest part, and that first bite ends up tasting bad, people won’t want to keep eating. If we start trying to solve a really tough problem without first building up some skill, we’re not going to succeed.
Make the first bite some place juicy and tender, and properly cooked so it goes down sweet and nice and easy, so people will want to keep eating.
Start with small pieces of a tough problem. Build self-efficacy with a series of small wins. This way, when it’s time to tackle a really tough piece, we’ll have the skills and the confidence to take it head on.
Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.