Strange, but true.
There’s an important professional lesson hiding in a popular children’s book by Laura Numeroff. If You Give a Moose a Muffin chronicles the comedy that ensues when a hungry moose comes to visit. You offer him a muffin. Then he wants jam. Then he wants another muffin. Then another. And then he wants you to go to the store to buy more muffin mix.
The moral of the story? One thing leads to another. (Baked goods not required.)
Once we start down a certain path, momentum keeps us moving in that direction. Think about standing up a long, straight row of dominoes and tapping the first one to watch the cascade effect. The dominoes will continue falling in the same direction until they reach the end—OR until we stop them and set them up a different way.
We can gain an important advantage if we understand that principle in the business world.
In my work as an executive coach, I like to help clients apply this concept in a positive way to their relationships within their organizations.
For those who tend to be more passive, I often encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and become more assertive. They might start by more openly expressing their opinions or approaching someone outside their line of business to get input on a project. Just by speaking up, they pave the way for the next step.
Building their confidence. Increasing their visibility. Projecting a stronger image. Each step gets easier, and their forward progress allows them to develop more collaborative and productive relationships with their colleagues and co-workers.
In some cases, I have framed this principle as a reminder to invest the time and effort required to excel. For instance, practicing before a meeting can help us perform better and drive greater outcomes. Solid preparation leads to success by giving us the extra momentum we need to get there.
On the other hand, I sometimes see a negative slant on “one thing leads to another” in today’s fast-paced, deadline-driven work environment.
I’m talking about the way many of us ignore the little voice inside of our heads that tells us we need to reduce our stress. Or get more sleep. Or take a break. We get stuck in an unhealthy pattern, continuing to do the same things that drain us. Over and over. Every day.
“I think I’ll skip the gym this week. I need to put in some overtime and finish this report.”
“I’ve worked the last three weekends. What’s one more?”
“No time for lunch again. I’ll grab some potato chips from the break room.”
We neglect taking care of ourselves, a little bit at a time, all in the name of professional success. One thing leads to another, but not in a good way. The cumulative effect can be devastating for our health and well-being.
The solution here is using the same principle to reverse the direction. When we find ourselves falling into that trap, we need to deliberately shift our momentum. By making one tiny change to care for ourselves instead of ignoring our needs, we can start on a new trajectory.
Small adjustments will yield benefits that start to snowball. We’ll remember who we are and appreciate what we have to offer. We’ll rediscover respect for our minds and bodies.
When WE become the priority, we’ll be more accepting of ourselves. Which leads to feeling more accepted by the people around us. Which allows us to be more authentic and genuine in our relationships. Which helps us build more meaningful connections. Which gives our lives a greater sense of purpose. Which translates into a dramatically higher level of happiness, at work and at home. You get the picture…
One thing does lead to another. Just make sure that your “domino effect” is moving in the right direction.