Your chances of succeeding at something is far greater if you just take small steps at the beginning on the path towards your goal rather than big leaps.
This theory is clearly and cleverly demonstrated by Californian social psychologists Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser. Back in 1966 the pair asked householders in California to display an ugly massive sign on their tidy front lawns, in view of every passerby. In large, red letters the sign urged people to Drive Carefully. Only a small number of householders – 17 per cent – agreed to put the sign up.
Further down the road the social psychologists approached another set of neighbours and asked them to sign a petition and to insert a small card into the glass panes of their door window. This sign said Keep California Beautiful. A fortnight later they returned and asked that same set of householders if they would now put the monstrous Drive Carefully sign on their front lawn. Of those who’d agreed to sign the petition and display the card earlier, a whopping 76 per cent agreed to put in the large ugly sign, thereby destroying the look of their front garden.
Both Freedman and Fraser concluded that it was all about maintaining the householder’s self-image ie once the residents had identified themselves as a good Californian citizen, in order to maintain that image they felt obliged to put the larger sign up.
What this experiment told the social psychologists was that if an individual takes a small action they feel is within their capabilities and that it is consistent with what they regard as their self-image, then they are more likely to take those big leaps at a later stage.
Extraordinary results come from taking ordinary steps evry day in the right direction – baby steps move mountains.