January 8, 2020 –

There’s a classic children’s book “Horton Hears a Who!” that offers vital lessons every professional should learn. The theme of the book, written and illustrated by Theodor Seuss Geisel under the pen name Dr. Seuss, is “a person’s a person no matter how small.”

You’ll pardon me for playing off the title of the book and borrowing some fantastic personal success ideas from the hero of the book, Horton the Elephant. Horton lives in the jungle with the other animals. 

While enjoying himself splashing in a pool, Horton hears a sound coming from a speck of dust. Puzzled by the noise, Horton leans in to listen and discovers that the sound is the voice of the Mayor of “Who-ville” who asks Horton to help save his small planet and city. Horton agrees to help the Mayor and protect the “Whos” from the imminent harm they are facing. 

It’s funny how quickly when Horton agrees to help that he encounters the Law of Good Deeds: “No good deed goes unpunished.” The other animals in the jungle confront Horton and refuse to believe the speck of dust is home to a tiny community of people called “Whos.” For the other jungle animals, “Who-ville” doesn’t exist if they can’t see or hear it. The unknown makes people feel insecure and uncertain. The story reveals that the other animals, who, after many attempts to steal and destroy the speck of dust, become convinced there is life on the speck when they hear a loud noise from the “Whos.” Once convinced of the “Whos” existence, the other jungle animals vow to help Horton protect the tiny community.


You achieve the big job you want by taking small steps over time in more minor roles. Here are six small steps that, taken over time, lead to the achievement of your big goal.

  1. BE ALERT TO UNEXPECTED OPPORTUNITIES. Opportunities to display your unique job skills can unexpectedly occur when you are busy doing your current job. There’s a law for this. Peter’s Law states, “The unexpected always happens.” A positive mindset is open to and recognizes opportunities more readily than a negative mindset. Like Horton, who was enjoying one of the jungle’s great joys, splashing in the cool of a pool when he heard a small noise. People seeking a better job must be alert to the small voice of opportunity.
  2. DEVELOP A BIAS FOR ACTION. Do something. Make a move. Horton realized that on top of the little speck of dust that landed on his trunk was a tiny size creature who needed help. Horton resolves to save him. It’s not Horton’s size or strength but his extraordinary commitment and strength of character that determines the outcome.
  3. EXPECT OBSTACLES AND CRITICISM. In his mission to protect the speck, Horton is ridiculed and harassed by the other animals in the jungle who express doubt a person or community exists on the speck of dust. Everyone meets obstacles and faces criticism, and the people who ultimately succeed are those who overcome them. Deal with impediments.
  4. IGNORE THE UNIMPORTANT AND AVOID DISTRACTIONS. Not everyone shares your enthusiasm and desire for advancement. As you climb the ladder of success, expect co-workers, friends, and even family members to offer contradictory advice. “Don’t do more than they pay you to do.” “Other employees don’t care, why should you?” “Don’t rock the boat.” “Management won’t listen.” A would-be success stays focused.
  5. COMMIT FULLY TO YOUR JOB; PERSEVERE. After an eagle grabs the speck which is now resting on a piece of clover, and flies away and drops the piece of clover in a large patch of three-millionth clovers, a hundred miles wide. “Find THAT!” said the eagle. Horton accepts the challenge and finds the piece of clover with the speck on it. Failing to persevere and follow-through is widespread among people, and a primary cause of remaining in the same small job. 
  6. BE PROACTIVE; BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR SUCCESS. Horton discovered unexpected events when responded to positively, can be rewarding. Through his action and tenacity in completing small jobs, Horton saves the community of “Who-ville.” The only way to get the job you want is to begin by being the best you can be at your current position. Success awaits individuals who believe in themselves and perform at their best in every role. 
  1. CAPTURE THE JOB YOU WANT BY EXCELLING AT THE SMALLER JOBS ALONG THE WAY. The decision to look at a small job as a step of progress and not a position of stagnation is difficult, but it is unquestionably the turning point for success. People crawl before they walk. We need to know that no job, no matter how small, is a stepping stone to a more significant, better paying and more satisfying career. 

The bottom line is not, is the job small. But, are you willing to make it a stepping stone to a more significant role?