The Little Engine vs. Bob the Builder

Picture of Bob the Builder
Children’s cartoons may seem irrelevant to Accounting & Finance staff, but there is a lot we can learn from a few of them.  Teamwork, positivity, humility, and determination are all traits that appear as common themes in our children’s favorite shows.  They are also traits that a leader needs to have so their team can be successful and add value to the organization.

How can they help you? Let’s take two common stories:  The Little Engine that could and Bob the Builder.  The Little Engine said, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”  Bob the Builder instead asks IF we can do a job before we start in on it.  These two characters are similar in that they are determined to complete a task, but Bob takes the determination a step further through self-reflection.

Research shows that Bob may have the better way.  Yes, positivity is important, but The Little Engine’s positivity can only take him so far.  After using brute force for so long, frustration sets in and we lose our motivation.  If the Little Engine didn’t have the correct machinery to physically make it up the mountain, at some point his wheels would spin.  Eventually he would give up and slide back down the mountain.

How is Bob different?

  1. Bob starts off by asking IF he can do something.
  2. This forces him to take a minute and analyze how he will accomplish the task.
  3. This self-evaluation is part of developing a solution to how the task will get done. Yes, you do need to be positive, but you gain more by self-evaluation than the positive self-talk.

Why do we still love the Little Engine?

  1. You won’t always have a team to back you up. Sometimes, you are on your own and ready or not, you’ve got to get it done.
  2. Sometimes your team is incredibly strong and you need to perform at your best. Ever notice how professional athletes psych themselves up before a game?  It doesn’t mean they aren’t capable; they just want to perform at their peak.
  3. We love the Little Engine that Could because he believes he can and he does.

We recommend using both. By starting out analyzing IF you can solve a problem and maintaining a positive attitude throughout; you will be on the path to success.

Tom Rath and Daniel Pink have a great quick conversation about this very topic over on the Pinkcast   

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Bernadette Grattan, founder of The Resource Link

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