Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

How do you eat an elephant?

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:47 PM

When individuals are faced with an overwhelming problem, the last thing that they need is for someone to confront them with an analogy such as how do you eat an elephant. The answer is that you eat an elephant like anything else-one bite at a time. One may ask, how does that apply to a problem?

A problem is divided into segments and each segment is dealt with individually. In that manner, it ends up being a bunch of small problems that are solvable rather than a huge problem that seems unsolvable and too difficult to attack. That really sounds too simple to be that easy. Sadly, it is simple and if approached properly, it can be easy.

I'm sure that some are thinking – give me some examples that worked. If anyone watched the Republican National Convention many examples were given. Gov. Christy of New Jersey took over a state that had a huge deficit and it had raised taxes numerous times during the past couple of years. He changed that from a deficit to a surplus and did it without raising taxes.

Gov. McDonald from Virginia was faced with the same problem and he did the same thing. Gov. Walker from Wisconsin also was faced with that problem. He also turned the state around and was faced with a recall because of it. During the recall, he received more votes than when he won the governorship.

The majority of the people liked what had happened. Gov. Kasich from Ohio has turned the state around and is now creating jobs rather than losing them. Gov. Martinez, the first Hispanic female governor, from New Mexico turned her state around from a deficit to a surplus also without raising taxes.

Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina have turned their states around also. There are those who say that these states are improving because of the federal programs that have been implemented. If that is true, then why aren't all of the states improving? 

Many other states are facing the same problems of deficits and unemployment such as New York, California and Michigan. They have huge deficits and yet they continue to spend, spend, spend. Cities throughout the nation are facing financial problems and several have gone bankrupt.

All too often, we are told that the challenges facing our nation are too big to be faced all at once. I do not believe it. I always fall back on my own experiences and those experiences convince me that when you explain the problem to the people and how you intend to solve it, the majority support you.

Trust always comes to the forefront and when that trust is there the people will follow. Trust is earned on a daily basis and leaders must earn it by being trustworthy. Little things such as being on time and doing what you said you would do send a huge message to followers.

Many problems can be solved at the lower levels of an organization if only the leaders allow subordinates to correct them. We spend too much money and I'll bet that many of our government employees can tell us exactly how to reduce stupid programs and procedures. That is a beginning and that improves the needed trust.   

When the people accept the fact that you are serious and will adjust, it is amazing how rapidly and involved they will become. Too frequently, employees believe that the leadership just doesn't care and as a result they don't care either. Our government has become so huge that the amount of wasted money is legion.

The only way that it will change is by changing attitudes. Changing attitudes comes from persistence, patience, constant talk and example. While that is under way, the leader attacks smaller parts of the bigger problem and explains the why. In the government it means selecting key subordinates who share you vision and creating apostles to the cause. It is obvious that the aforementioned governors did that. 

Each one of those governors exhibited enthusiasm, vision, and drive. Look what President Reagan was able to accomplish and how he changed the attitude of typical Americans.  

The elephant that we are facing as our government can be eaten one bite at a time, but time is running out and the elephant continues to grow. Now is the time to break out our knives and forks and be ready for a lot of elephant meals. 


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