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Bite an Elephant Today

My friend, Elizabeth Dixon, started a website last year entitled, Bite an Elephant. If you don’t know the origin of the phrase, I’m guessing it comes from the old riddle: “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time.” Elizabeth is dedicated to helping people be successful, one step at a time. I’ve been exploring my own means of eating the elephant recently – Micro Moves.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with micro moves or not. I’ve tried to find who coined the phrase, but as of yet, have not been successful. If you know, I’d love to hear from you. I was introduced to the idea by McNair Wilson. He’s a creative genius, a former Disney imagineer and has served as a mentor and coach for me over the years.
The way McNair described micro moves is so simple you might call it elegant. A micro move is nothing more than breaking down the largest of tasks into a series of very small projects or tasks – “moves.”
His example was to think about cleaning out your garage. That’s something most people can relate to. And, for many people, the thought is overwhelming. McNair suggested selecting one box or one shelf a day and attack it – not the entire garage. Be consistent and make your moves as frequently as possible, daily if you can. He said your individual moves may take only 10 or 15 minutes, but executed consistently, it will add up. You’ll wake up one day in the near future, and that garage will be clean!
So, I’ve been experimenting with this idea as we prepare for an upcoming move. Based on my experience, I have a few tips for your consideration.
Although I think the ideas works on anything we need to do, the bigger the project, the better. My belief is the huge projects are the daunting ones we’re most likely to avoid.
Each move doesn’t have to be of equal impact or time commitment. Saturday, I invested 3 hours – Sunday only about one hour. Both count. Although you may want to allocate an hour a day on cleaning out the garage, don’t sweat it if one day, you can only invest 15 minutes – micro moves. The little bits of focused time add up.
Tell someone else what you’re doing and your plan of attack. Accountability is a really good thing. As I’ve written about before on this site, I think it really is a gift we can give ourselves and others. If you tell someone you trust about your plan, their encouragement will increase the likelihood of your success.
Saturday, I finished cleaning out the garage and started on the basement. Micro moves are helping me prepare for our big move in a few months. Next stop, I’m going to try some micro moves on several big projects at the office. If I learn anything new, I’ll pass it on.
I hope you’ll join me, and take a bite out of your elephant today![GLS_Shield]

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Chuck Mealy

7 years ago

Micro-moves also work on large projects in planning for big events. Choir tour, Christmas programs, family vacation responsibilities etc. works wonderful – I just never had a handle to out on it. Thanks.

mark

7 years ago

Thanks, Chuck. I think you’re right. My challenge is usually one of two things: the courage to start or the discipline to continue. Other than those things, it’s easy 🙂 Thanks for joining the conversation! Mark

Sabra Penley

7 years ago

Love this. It affirms what I’ve been thinking lately: 10-minute Time Tamers. There are so many huge tasks to do that I end up putting it off until it is overwhelming. But if I break it down into 10-minute tasks and redeem those 10-minutes-here, 10-minutes-there in my day, pretty soon those huge tasks are done. No time wasted and maybe new time gleaned for the enjoyable things in life.

mark

7 years ago

Thanks for joining the conversation Sabra! I’m constantly looking for ways to steward my time more effectively – 10-minute time tamers is another great idea. Thanks! Mark

Steve Morgan

7 years ago

I have heard the term micro-resolutions recently also. Sometimes the difference between getting something done or not is just 15 minutes a day. This could be applied to writing or any project. I remember reading about a NY Times best seller from a guy who worked another job but wrote his book like that…15 minutes a day! Thanks for the reminder.

mark

7 years ago

Thanks, Steve. I know a famous author who does something similar. He’s written 75 books – one hour a day. I believe all of us can better steward our time if we embrace the power of micro moves. Thanks for joining the conversation! Mark

Dave Sena

7 years ago

I am consistently amazed what a person can do in 20 minutes. I am learning to be active and do consistently. As a nonprofit leader, I am consistently amazed that a person build a mountain out of handfuls of dirt. Thanks for the article.

mark

7 years ago

Thanks for your work in the nonprofit sector! You and others like you, are often the unsung heroes in our world. Keep up the great work! Mark

Lori Polachek

7 years ago

I enjoyed this post Mark.
It got me thinking about how schools might integrate into their curriculum, a deliberate focus on teaching students how to create plans with “micro-moves”, so that students learn early how to eat the proverbial elephants of life!
Thanks for sharing

mark

7 years ago

What a great idea! I wish someone had taught me about micro-moves as a student. Who knows, someone may have tried. It is a principle that seems to have broad application. Thanks for joining the conversation! Mark

David Sparks

7 years ago

This idea/concept applies in so many different areas. It’s one way I try to keep weeds out of my yard, it’s a way that I try to read the Bible, it’s how I try to create new habits. Great illustration and reminder!

Great Leaders Serve | By Mark Miller | Top Ten Posts from 2014

6 years ago

[…] Bite an Elephant Today – This post is about an idea for accomplishing big things – one step at a time. I took the elephant photo in Kenya. […]

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