WHAT THE ELEPHANT CAN TEACH US ABOUT PROGRESS

If you were to stand at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and look up to its summit, wondering how on earth you are going to reach the top, the task may seem somewhat daunting – particularly if you are slightly unfit and haven’t done any exercise for a while!. Standing at 5895 metres, Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the tallest mountains in the world and requires time, strength and fitness to get to the top.

The act of going from the bottom to the top is a major leap. However, if you chunked the ascent down into manageable portions, the goal of reaching the summit suddenly seems that much more possible. Setting a target of 500-750 metres a day is achievable, even for the most unfit of people. Assuming time is not an issue, you can slightly increase the distance each day as you grow stronger. 

So within a couple of weeks, you’ll have reached the summit.

How do you eat an elephant?

It was Desmond Tutu who said: “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Though this phrase has been taken and used in psychology circles the world over. It is however a perfect way of illustrating a more circumspect approach to working towards some major goals that you may have set yourself. 

You may have some major life goals that you have set out for yourself. Those goals may be around having a certain amount of money in the bank, owning your dream home, going on two exotic holidays every year, driving a Ferrari – the extent of the goals don’t matter – they are your goals and dreams to have. However, if you are currently sat in a bedsit living off an overdraft with maxed out credit cards, that dream of a Ferrari may seem beyond reach. Often it feels so far away, and so overwhelming, that you feel frozen – unable to even take the first step.

However, chunking down what you need to do on your way to achieving that dream will help you make the first step (which we all know is often the most difficult). 

Take advantage of the compound effect

Just take one credit card and make a pledge to pay that one off first and foremost. Once you have got the momentum going on that, look at putting a small amount away each month into a ‘Do Not Touch’ account. Remember the compound effect – if you get £5 into debt week on week, that soon builds up to a larger debt. Similarly, if you put £5 a week into a saving account, that £5 soon builds up into some more substantial savings.

Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success, wrote: “The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices.”

He goes on to say: “It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.”

Dream BIG, but plan sensibly

An elephant typically weighs between 4000 and 6000 kgs – but can be bigger. That is a lot of bites to be consumed in one sitting. In all honesty – you would be ill at the end of it. Taking one bite at a time, you can make sure that you are making slow, but steady progress towards achieving one or more of your goals. Before you know it, you’ll be sat in the driving seat of that Ferrari and looking back in marvel at how you have progressed through life and achieved those dreams!