How Do You Eat an Elephant?

“How do you eat an elephant?” We know the standard answer…one bite at a time.

It is a classic, visual explanation for how to tackle a large goal. I understand the concept of one bite, or one task, at a time, but where do you start? The trunk? The tail?

I would imagine that you are currently tackling your own “elephant” or anticipate starting the process soon, so let’s think this through.

Kevin Daum wrote an article for Inc. magazine entitled 5 Steps to Tackling a Big Project. He had an interesting perspective:

2. Start at the End

People spend a ton of wasted time and effort doing research and writing what ends up being cast aside because it’s later determined to be off track for the project. Pozen insists you don’t need to start with a wide scope and then narrow. Do some preliminary research and sketch out your tentative conclusions. Then use those as a general guide for how the project will be completed. You should always keep an open mind and adjust as you go, but this way you won’t waste valuable time on a wild goose chase.

So I guess we start with the tail!

Emilie wrote a great article entitled Help! My Goal is Too Big – How to Get Started When Your Project Really Scares You! I just love this title because I think we can all relate to this feeling. Emilie helps readers by stating the obvious so that we can face it and move forward:

You will never feel ready to pursue that massive project.

I certainly didn’t feel fully ready to launch the Puttytribe (Don’t you need an enormous subscriber base to launch a membership site? That’s what they tell you anyway…) It took me weeks before I was brave enough to even set a launch date. And despite all of the research, I was certainly not prepared for everything that puppyhood entails! But I’m not sure I ever could have been.

Sometimes the only way to learn, is to stumble along in the dark, fail a few times, and then take smarter action as you move forward. We learn a great deal more from our failures than our successes anyway.

So we begin with the end in mind.
We admit that it is a big project but we just need to take our first step.

Lastly, we need to emphasize the importance of Steady Progress.

Inc. magazine has been publishing a series of rules in business and in February the rule was “Emphasize Steady Progress.” A Harvard Professor, Teresa Amabile, asked 238 professionals to keep diaries of their inner work lives. The inner work life being the feelings and circumstances that arise each day and how they make us feel.

At the end of the study, she proclaimed that the number one motivator of business owners, managers and leaders is a sense of progress. Even accomplishing a small step toward their goal gave them a satisfying sense of success.

Okay – the elephant is standing in front of you. What are you going to do?

I say let’s take a step forward and chomp a big bite out of that goal!