Proverbial Thoughts: Eating Elephants

elephant2How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time ~Dad

I’m sitting in a seminary class with the normal heart palpitations you get when the evil syllabus is handed to you. Dr. Engle, barely looking over the lectern with his coke rim glasses, quotes this proverb with a slight Hebraic accent. Often proverbial sayings of a parent are echoed by others. When I banged my head on the desk, the prof smiled and stated “So, you’ve heard this often, have you?”

Big projects are made of small steps
The point of the proverb is you need to break big things into its smaller steps. Right now as you’re starting a new year, new project or a new semester you have what I call syllabus shock. This is where you feel the rush of emotion at all that needs to get done. (For those newer in their academic career, this doesn’t go away, you just learn to manage it better.) ASAP, look to break the big elephant into bites.

There’s not way to get this done
I’ve said that a few times. And a few times dad stated the elephant thing. There is a difference between being simple and being a simpleton. We often confuse proverbial statements as being a simpleton, but really the most profound truths and answers are simple. Let’s face it, you’re not the first person to face a large task.

Big 3
The hardest part of a project is getting started. I learned that sometimes the best thing is to focus immediately on the first 3 tasks that need to be accomplished. This helps get the ball rolling. What are the first three bites you need to take? Often meats taste better with condiments, so is there a resource or a person who can help you name the big 3?

Hamburger, steak or roast
Some things can be done quick, others take some more art & finesse and others need to be on the back burner for a while. As you look at the different tasks, which can be done quick, which need time and attention, and what needs to be started early so they can roast in the back of your mind for a while? If someone says you don’t need to worry about something right away, good chances it’s a roast. If the reason for not worrying is it can be done quickly, schedule it for later. If it needs attention and detail, turn on the grill, tis time for steak!

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