Elephant visual

How do you eat an elephant?

…one chunk at a time. A great metaphor for breaking things down into manageable steps. We’re likely to feel defeated or get indigestion if we think about eating it in one go! We don’t need to be concerned about the final destination before deciding to take action.

Let me give you an example. I think I’ve always subscribed to the belief that we each have a book in us, it just hadn’t been the right time for me. That is until about 18 months ago when I felt suddenly inspired to write. It was a kind of energy that seemed to rise up and demand action. At that point I wasn’t concerned with whether or not it would ever be published, I was just enjoying the creative process of writing.

The next step became clear when having written 10 chapters it occurred to me that I needed to ask someone else’s opinion. I sent copies to friends. Coincidentally, it snowed on the day a friend received it, and because she was snowed in, she read the whole thing. She gave me honest feedback – it had some merit but required a lot more work.

The next step became clear when she asked if I wanted to meet an editor friend of hers. What followed was a valuable and enjoyable period of working collaboratively with Sarah which enabled me to gain much needed clarity about the message. I still wasn’t focusing on publication.
Following the second draft, the next step became clear as it occurred to me to ask my daughter to read the book. She gave me really positive feedback and I made further adjustments resulting in a third draft. Although I now sensed that publication might be a possibility, I still didn’t feel ready to publicly commit.

The next step became clear during a workshop. I was sharing with the group my enthusiasm at having learned so much from the process and that I was satisfied irrespective of whether it was published. It occurred to me then that there was one person in particular who had shared this journey with me and hadn’t yet read the book. She read it over the next couple of days and gave it a very positive ‘thumbs up’. The decision to publish now seemed easy to make.

Of course, with hindsight and reflection I appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the overall process. Each stage ended up having its own intrinsic value whilst at the same time moving me forwards. Even now on the eve of publication, my eye is on the next step, marketing and selling the first 100 copies. Depending on the feedback I get, further steps may present themselves, but I don’t need to know yet what those may be.

Knowing how the mind works gave me freedom to see beyond the limits of superstitious personal thinking and to experience the true magic of life unfolding. I didn’t consciously do anything to make it happen rather it seems to me there was an absence of thinking I couldn’t.

What can you take from this example? Are you attributing anything in your life with additional, unnecessary meaning; are you caught in a trap of over-thinking something that is stopping you from taking action?

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