How To Eat An Elephant

Handling monumental tasks

Managing monumental tasks

Have you ever sat and stared at a task for hours or even days, not knowing where to begin?  Whether it is reading a big book, tacking a project, a painting project at home or even writing an article, we just don’t know where to begin.

So, how do you eat an elephant?  The answer is one bite at a time. 

Knowing where to bite off, how small a bite should be and how to make small bites out of the project are pertinent questions to be answered.

The important thing is to take the first step, or the first bite.

Even if it is a trivial task, a small effort or an easy thing to do, it should be done.  Take the first step and do it.

Once you do it, you will be surprised at how quickly others follow suit and before you know it, the team starts making progress.

Since a team comprises of different people of varying mindsets, some may find it more easy to start, some others may find it easier to build and carry momentum and yet others may find it easy to close things out.

As a leader, you should be bold and willing to take the first step.

We coined the term “first draft champion” for one of our team-members.  During our assignments in business school, she would be the first to cobble something together (in most cases it was just a skeleton) and throw it out to the team.  The rest of the team found it very easy once a template or framework is available and they just had to add text, explanation, analysis or their inputs in the relevant sections.

More importantly, it gave us (the team) the feeling that each of us “owned” just a small part of the whole thing.  This is a feeling of comfort that came only when we could see the rest of the parts that were not complete.

Gradually the “team” takes over, and as each one chips in their part, progress is achieved and you head towards the finish line.

Next time you are part of a team and are facing a task, think of the small first step that you can take.  As a leader you should be aware of the “first draft champions” in your team  and make sure you can get them taking a crack as soon as possible.  Then watch out for how quickly others follow suit and the team gains momentum.

So share your thoughts and experiences on what techniques work for you in overcoming the starter’s mental block.

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