There’s an African proverb that says “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
I often get asked, how do I tackle my big idea? This dream business in my head? Starting my entrepreneurial journey?
And the same response rings in my head each time, “One bite at a time”
We tend to look to mentors, leaders, books, Instagram posts for the 1 thing. The magic pill. The path to instant success. The sure fire easy way to win.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist.
However, we can look to a certain way of doing things and a combination approach to hopefully get the same success we desire. To build out the dreams we strive for.
Below are the steps I believe we must undertake in order to eventually actualize THE BIG IDEA.
You have to start
It’s easy to dream but it’s much harder to take action.
Don’t get caught up in continually procrastinating. Stop searching, stop looking, just begin!
Every story of every successful person before you; anyone you’ve ever admired or looked up to; is a direct result of them taking action in their life.
There’s a guy in a bar right now who’s had 3 too many and every day he slurs to anyone who listens, “Facebook was my idea!”
Perhaps true. But the difference between he and Mark? Mark started.
Execution is what gives an idea value.
“The only way to soar is to jump” – Steve Harvey
When you see people doing amazing things, it means they identified their gift, they decided to go all in on their idea, they jumped.
You’re not a bird. You don’t get to sit on sidelines and flap your wings.
You have to JUMP.
A very good friend once said that the opportune time meant to him: “You have to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime… in the lifetime of that opportunity.”
Continuing to delay isn’t getting you anywhere.
Want to eat this elephant? Well you have to sit at the table, whip out your fork and knife and start chewing!
Your mindset has to be exponential
Human perception is linear.
It’s based on our need to survive and predict the steps that insure that survival.For example, if it takes us a day to build a house, we know in 30 days we’ll have 30 houses. If our household uses 50 units of electricity a day we know we’ll need 1,500 units to keep the lights on all month.
Furthermore, think about walking down the road. If we wanted to go 30 meters we can pretty much estimate that will take a meter a step, thus 30 steps.
Our brains are hardwired to predict growth and progress linearly. It’s easy to plan. We go through the same routine each day and we can predict how things will go if we stick to that.
But my real question is then, how long would it take you to eat our elephant?
Here’s how your brain is working right now:
You just hit Google and found out a full grown elephant is about 6,000 kgs. The next search tells you the average human eats less than 2kg a day. So it’ll take you at least 3,000 days right?
8 years of elephant every day… good luck with that.
The challenge now is that the world no longer moves in linear fashion. It’s exponential.
That’s the rate of speed our technology, innovation, environmental & resource challenges, business models are moving.
What does that actually mean?
Let’s take it back to the step analogy.
What if you went 30 exponential steps?
1 then 2 then 5, 8, 16, 32 and so forth? Where would you end up?
Very few people would say a billion meters away. 1,073,716,824 to be exact. 26 times around the planet.
We’d knock out that ol elephant by day 12! I think I can stomach that!
Adjusting your mindset to an exponential one is focusing on growing by 10X instead of just 10%. Grand achievement vs incremental slow and steady.
Want to be as impactful and successful as Uber, Facebook, AirBnb etc? Your mindset, your work effort, your business model, your plan for growth has to be exponential.
We live in extraordinary times. The grandfather of exponential thinking and futurism, Ray Kurzweil stated,
“We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century , it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.”
The exponential mindset is the key to thriving in a world where anything is possible. It’s actually a necessity.
Don’t get left behind.
Four letters, G-R-I-T
Alright so we’ve started eating and we’re eating at a pace that’s going to get us there in 12 days versus 3,000. However, PETA aside, eating an elephant of an idea is just a lot of work.
The reality of any big idea worth having is we’re going to have to work exceedingly hard to make it come anywhere close to fruition.
That level of hard work requires grit.
Never heard of it?
Well the dictionary defines grit:
- Persistence and perseverance despite fear and the unknown
- A determined appreciation, or rather understanding of each step of the journey
- An unwavering commitment to your goals
- The consistency of actions resulting from deliberate volition
My favorite definition however, comes from Andy Miller, CEO of Big Swift Kick, who says,
“Grit is your capacity to dig deep, do whatever it takes — especially suffer, sacrifice, struggle, and stumble — in order to achieve your most worthy goals.“
It’s deeper than skills or your societal circumstances, true grit is what truly sets you apart. The motivation you find when nothing else is there to show you it’s worth it.
Grit is the guy in the movies that gets punched over and over, knocked out, shot a few times for good measure, and left for dead. Bruised, broken and bleeding, that same guy gets back up, limps to redemption and somehow triumphs. We cheer!
My father calls it “some of that hanging-in-there-ness!”
Grit is also a proven concept.
Dr. Duckworth, psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania has studied grit for past 2 decades through interviewing successful CEO’s, teachers, West Point graduates, Fortune 500 sales teams, entrepreneurs, grade school students.
Her research has determined that grit has better predictability for ultimate success than…
- Social Intelligence
- Family Income
- Good Looks (yup even mine)
- Physical Health
So grit, which comprises of a person’s perseverance and passion, is one of the most important predictors of success. Even better, each of us all have the power to increase its capacity within us. It can be developed!
What truly matters is your ability to find that special motivation within to simply last and bear through the difficult and uncertain times. It’s the ability to view failure as a temporary condition and bounce back up. The ability to each day be willing to take a bite of this enormous feat no matter how much it hurts, no matter how much you’re tired of elephant, no matter how much it looks like there’s no progress.
The reality is very few people are actually willing or able to do that.
Not everyone is an elephant eater.
Many people believe starting a business is a mysterious process. That finding that billion dollar idea is unsurmountable. Frustrated they don’t know the first steps to take.
The reality is no one does.
You just have to start it! Today!
And work in a manner that will keep you on pace with the rate the world is moving today (even beyond). You can’t afford not to.
Finally, you have to have the hard work and patience to last long enough to the last bite.
Nb. No elephants were harmed in the writing of this article.