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Eating The Elephant

The eating the elephant metaphor has been around a long time …

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

The metaphor is applied to any large problem … you break it down into manageable tasks that you can accomplish, one at a time.

No matter how many times we hear the metaphor we can still tend to “panic” when handed what seems to be an insurmountable problem.

This technique however will stand you in good stead whether it is putting together one of those supposedly “easy” pieces of furniture from Ikea or solving a larger business problem.

I think that there are many people who will relate to the Ikea story, or the children’s toy that needs to be put together on the evening before their birthday! In this case the expectation is that it will be easy and when it is harder than expected (expectations are out of line with reality) the job suddenly becomes big! There is a little voice in the back of your head saying … “Go have a beer … buy something else and return this thing!” (Maybe that is just my head … but I’ll put money that I’m not alone).

The trick is to get expectations and reality back in line … break the job down and understand what it is really going to take, make sure you have everything you need … including time and extra hands to help if necessary and work through the problem. (You can even have that beer while doing it!)

What about BIGGER problems?

You are unemployed and there is a recession on and you can’t find work. BIG problem!

What CAN you do about it?

Break it down into manageable pieces and attack the issue one step at a time ….

What kind of job would you LIKE to do?
What kind of job COULD you do?
Can you relocate to where there is work? Where is feasible?
How far can you travel?
What skills do you have … hard skills (experience, credentials) … soft skills (personality, communication, etc.)
Why would someone hire you? List ALL of the reasons including “soft” reasons … energy, drive, enthusiasm, willingness to do what it takes, maturity, caring nature, positive personality etc etc.
Who do you know that could help?
Have you got references from previous jobs?
Do you give back to your community? Does that show on your resume? Have you tapped into that network?
Create a list of every place you would like to work. You can add to it over time.
Update your resume … and get help, ask advice, get a professional to help you if possible.
Use an employment agency … if you are a senior person talk to executive search firms.
Create some cover letter using the reasons why people would employ you as a basis for the message you want to deliver … get help.

There are a lot of things you can do to find that next job … it looks like work, it can be a very daunting task BUT if you break it down into smaller tasks then you can “Just Do It” one task at a time.

Its a funny thing but actually ticking off those tasks as you complete them feels good … and when you actually meet your target it feels REALLY good.

Elephants are there to be eaten … and anyone can do it, it just needs to be done in a way that you can handle it!