One of the most helpful pieces of advice I heard in recent years took me by surprise. Eat an elephant one bite at a time. What?
It certainly grabbed my attention; then made me smile. How else could anyone eat an elephant?
This odd offering of advice turned out to serve me well.
So many situations, tasks, and difficulties seem overwhelming at first. It is only when we consume something â€śone bite at a timeâ€ť that we realize almost everything benefits from a paced, purposeful perusal.
When a toddler takes the first step, parents are thrilled â€“ even when it
is followed by a fall. They know that first step leads to success in
walking! If we can adopt that outlook with almost everything, what could
be debilitating stress can be replaced by optimism.
The one-step-at-a-time philosophy makes life so much simpler. It encompasses almost everything. Why we ever think we can accomplish the impossible in short order, I do not know. But, once we recognize the value of a steady approach, it becomes a saving grace.
When a toddler takes the first step,
parents are thrilled â€“
even when it is followed by a fall.
They know that first step
leads to success in walking!
My only trait that remotely relates to an organized, step-by-step approach to life has been my optimism. Believing that everything would, let alone could, turn out well, saved me. At the same time, it allowed me to procrastinate.
Finally, I have realized that I can apply the one bite at a time approach to any task, even if it is just that very first step. Every single step makes a big difference. It has begun! It is progressing! It can be finished!
Any progress delights me. Not only does it signal a process has begun; it is a victory over procrastination, no matter how small.
For those who feel their work never ends, the image of eating an elephant one bite at a time has a very positive advantage. The outcome, after all, is that it ends. When we look at each task or problem as finite, it becomes manageable. When we realize it will end, we can do it.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.