A secret recipe for “bite-sized” elephant – tips for breaking a challenge into smaller pieces.
In business and our personal lives we often talk about the “Elephant in the Room”. So, today I am writing about that “Giant Elephant” that is following you wherever you go – on the way home from work, while you are watching TV, while you are at your kid’s practice. The one that even crowds its big rear-end into your car while you are trying to enjoy a little music and alone time.
One of the insights I had this week from my coaching session with my coach is that because I have a new challenge, that big elephant has started following me everywhere I go. I am teaching an MBA class this fall at Portland State University. That is exciting for me, yet daunting as I try to traverse the policies, procedures and processes as a “regular” adjunct faculty member teaching a 500-level class in just a few weeks. I have a lot of things to figure out quickly as I prepare for this new class. I frankly have felt overwhelmed, just as some of my own coaching clients have been feeling. I described it to my coach Cathy as “I just am tired and can’t seem to get out from under the weight of this big elephant”.
She asked me how I would feel if I got my newsletter done. I told her it would feel great, but I just can’t seem to find the time. She asked me about other items on my “To Do List”. We then discussed how I would feel if I started “breaking the elephant into bite-sized chunks” and I realized I hadn’t been doing that. Cathy next questioned me what chunks I could start listing as measurable action plans. Hmmmmmm. Yummmmmm. It all started to click. This was starting to sound pretty tasty and appetizing. Let me summarize for you and I hope it helps and inspires you as well!
The Recipe for “Bite-sized Elephant Stew”:
- Take 1 large, specific, measurable goal that is inspiring and motivating. Mix it well with a clear, end-vision of what you want to accomplish. Sprinkle in thoughts about what you want to achieve, how you will achieve it and when you plan to have the goal accomplished.
- Working backwards from your accomplishment date, determine key ingredients and steps required to meet your goal.
- Take the large elephant that you carried into your room and start cutting it into several, bite-sized chunks. These chunks should be infused with a dose of reality, big enough to “stretch”, but not so big that your over-fill your cooking pot.
- Once you have created bite-sized chunks, ensure you add specific measurements, specific dates and a way to know if you are on track to meet your inspiring goal or challenge.
- Place your chunks into your calendar and cover them with a seal of protection so you have adequate time to focus and concentrate on accomplishing each required task.
- Let your elephant and your actions simmer and check often to ensure they are on track and are not going past the “expiration” date.
- Season to taste and adjust as needed. Do you need to turn down the heat? Add some spice? Pull something out of the pot so it doesn’t boil over?
- Get help from an experienced “cook” or coach in order to ensure accountability, share insights and to see if your elephant is on track to result in a tasty and delicious stew of experience.
- Once your elephant entrée is done, I’d recommend pairing it with champagne to celebrate all your hard work, accomplishments and learning.
- Clean up the mess and get ready to start your next Elephant dish!
I hope you enjoy this recipe and find it helpful. Bon Appetite!