One Bite at a Time
How do you eat an elephant?
I’ve been overwhelmed by all the things I want to do. It’s not so much having the ideas but having the ideas faster than I can imagine completing them. I go through days at a time without working on any of them. I’ve been paralyzed by the anxiety or the enthusiasm or both. There are so many ideas that I wreck my brain about how to make them all real – launching another website, designing fitness equipment, starting a marketing and advertising business, submitting design patents, creating and trademarking the logo for this site and the next one, business cards, designing toys, developing mobile apps, a reality show called The Married Bachelor, etc. There’s so much that instead of me sitting down to prioritize the projects and allot time to knock them out, I’ve been sitting, posturing, doing nothing that moves any of the projects forward. Paralyzed.
problem I have thing I do – I call it my “fatal flaw”, because it’s a habit that lights my creative yacht’s sails on fire, smacks the creative ice cream cone from my hand, hails on my constructive parade, and harpoons my creative hot air balloon. I’m in the habit of thinking TOO big. I know how that sounds. There’s no such thing, right? Well, I miss the small things. You know that expression “Can’t see the forest because of the trees”? Let’s say I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum where I miss the trees. It’s just all forest. I have to make an effort to keep in mind the small things, obstacles, steps, etc. There’s probably a word for it. In short, I see the ideas as one big THING or goal or target instead of seeing them as their own entities. I don’t view them by their progressions.
Break It Up
Where it’s a problem is when I consider goals, which seem attainable enough, to be out of reach, because I’m looking at how big a task seems in its entirety vs looking at it from the point of view of the steps it will take to complete. It would benefit me to focus on the steps, to take small bites.
I can use the condition of my apartment as an example. At the moment, I have two dirty bathrooms, dishes in the sink and dishwasher and on the counter, clean clothes on the floor next to my bed and in the dryer, and unopened mail occupying 3/4 of the breakfast bar. What I see is that it’s time to clean up my place, and it will take forever (*forever is understood to mean more time that I want to give).
A more effective approach is slicing the task into smaller pieces to accomplish over time. For example: Monday clean the kitchen after work, before dinner; Tuesday, fold and put clothes away after dinner, before TV, etc. I could go on. Just as easily as I’m writing this, I can do these things. It looks a helluva lot easier breaking it up that way. I’d forgotten about of this practice for hitting goals, but now that my world seems to be spinning back to right side up and with wisdom from my therapist, it’s come back to light.
Sharing Helps Too
So what about sharing the load? I’m aware that a lot of the ideas will require expertise I don’t have. I think there are two things that hold me back from leaning on the help of others: control and trust.
I feel like I need to maintain control of a project from birth to completion. I’m sure a wiser entrepreneur would caution me to realize I can’t do it all myself and that at some point someone else might need to have a say in how a project is carried out. That leads right into the other mental block of trust.
To let someone contribute, I have to trust the person understands and supports my vision. I’d probably be obsessive about feedback, because I’d just need to be certain of something that’s kind of impossible to be certain of. There’s no guarantee that time or money won’t be wasted by churning out something that’s missed the mark. For some reason, I think of partnerships in a negative way. I can’t put my finger on why, but I think the nature of strangers is shaky ground. People are unpredictable. Giving up control and trusting others are risks. I know that I have to bravely step into areas where I won’t always see the ground. Risks are part of the [entrepreneur] life.
So then the riddle of how to eat an elephant is solved by eating one bite at a time and sharing some with friends.
Here’s a TED playlist to watch: The Power of Collaboration