Saturday, May 9, 2009

Eating Elephants

When my “things to do” list starts stacking up, and life clumps more obligations than usual into the frame of my schedule….I try to keep things in perspective and calm myself by asking:

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

And it’s true. It takes a lot of bites. But if I can just keep chomping away, I can make it through.

Not long ago, I ran into one of my co-workers in the hallway. (I realize this may seem like an everyday occurrence, but it’s not. One of the interesting realities of working on the global team I do is that I often don’t see my co-workers face-to-face. Our team takes full advantage of being able to work remotely.) Anyway, I passed her in the hallway and said hi. Then, inadvertently opened up a floodgate by asking how she was doing. She started sharing all the things she’s juggling at work, and then some things she’s juggling at home too. Without thinking too much about it I asked her, “Well…you know the best way to eat an elephant right?” She just gave me a quizzical look. “One bite at a time.”

I could see the wheels in her head turning. Then a light brightened somewhere. And she said, “You know, you’re right. I’m going to have to remember that.” We talked for a few more minutes, and when she walked away, I could tell she wasn’t as weighed down as she had been when I had said hello. Take that, silly elephant!

Sometimes it’s just to remember that no matter how big your mouth is, and how much is on your plate, you can only deal with one bite at a time. So don’t be overwhelmed by the elephant. Just be focused on chewing and swallowing one bite at a time.

When I hear somebody sigh that life is hard, I am always tempted to ask, Compared to what? ~ Sydney J. Harris


Just for fun, and just because I can, and maybe just because it has an elephant in it…let me share a fantastic quiz with you. Ready?

The goal of this famous quiz game is to help you understand better your style of thinking. The questions are not difficult. Try to think for a while before reading the solutions.

* How do you put a giraffe in the fridge?
Correct answer: Open the fridge, put the giraffe inside, close the fridge. This question checks if you tend to make simple things complicated.

* How do you put an elephant in the fridge?
Wrong answer: Open the fridge, put the elephant inside, close the fridge. Correct answer: Open the fridge, remove the giraffe, put the elephant inside, close the fridge. This question checks your ability to consider implications from your previous actions.

* The Lion King organized a moot for the animals: all the animals are present but one. Which one?
Correct answer: The elephant. The elephant is in the fridge. This checks your memory.

Even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you'll get the next one for sure.

* You have to cross a river, but it is populated by alligators. What are you going to do?
Correct answer: You swim across the river because all the alligators are attending the moot. This question checks if you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Andersen Consulting Worldwide, 90% of the managers who undertook the test failed all the answers. On the contrary many children under 6 answered some questions correctly. Hmmm......


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  2. I love this one! And it arrived at such an opportune time! Life ~ one bite at a time!!