“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”~ Creighton Abrams
Some jobs are just overwhelming. Trying to help clients find success in their businesses, I often have to remind myself, and them, that it doesn’t usually happen overnight. Success takes a lot of work and dedication. Some projects just feel huge, don’t they? The proposal for the new client, the interview for the dream job, the piles of stuff around the house, the laundry…all sometimes feel as big and daunting as an elephant might make us feel. If we were told we must eat an elephant, we would have to eat it one bite a time, and if we want to tackle difficult tasks we must ‘eat’ them the same way: one bite at a time.
Watching for years as my husband fought with the shells of pistachios, I wondered why he bothered. I had never heard of or seen a pistachio until just a few years ago and decided it looked like too much trouble to get the pistachio out of the shell. Recently, I decided to try my hand at cracking a shell, after learning they are a special treat full of good nutrition and eyeing a huge bin of them at the grocery. The pistachio did not disappoint. The green, salty, firm (but not tough) pistachio waiting inside the shell was truly tasty. Becoming a pistachio lover happened slowly, as I cracked open one shell after another, realizing that cracking the shell was part of the experience that makes eating pistachios such a treat. I love the accomplished feeling I find when I reach the treasure inside the shell.
As in most experiences I have, cracking those pistachio shells really hit home with lots of life lessons. After all, I had put off trying pistachios for years, thinking it was just too much trouble. What have we put off in life because it was just too daunting, too tough a shell to crack, too large an elephant to eat? Maybe it’s spending less money or using nicer words. For most people, I think their health is the number one nut they need to take time to crack…one pistachio at a time. You quit smoking one cigarette at a time. You drink more water one glass at a time. You get more exercise one step at a time. If the pistachios were already removed from the shell, would you be able to appreciate them?
If a lot of money falls into your lap, you can’t appreciate it the way someone who has worked hard for every dollar will. You just can’t. If you have surgery to get rid of your large tummy or baggy thighs, you’ll be pretty happy about it, but you’ll never appreciate it the way someone who changes their diet and walks lots of steps will. You just won’t. If you have someone write your paper or take your test, you’ll probably pass your class and move on to the next grade or level, but you’ll never appreciate that grade, that promotion, as much as the person who has spent extra hours researching and writing (and editing) will. You just will not. And if you go to the store and purchase the shelled pistachios for $15 a pound, eating them in a matter of minutes. You cannot appreciate the roasted, salted goodness that I find as my reward for cracking the shell. You just cannot.
What is your pistachio that seems to be too hard a nut to crack? If you are going to get your degree, it will be one class at a time. Improving your health, it’s one change at a time. If you are going to change your life, it will be one day at a time and one choice at a time. Choose well.
“Excellence is never an accident…it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ― Aristotle