…is the next one.
How do you eat an elephant?
I’m not sure what elephants taste like, or why you’d ever want to eat one, but the answer, of course, is one bite at a time. (Mustard is optional, but a little enthusiasm never hurts.)
The same instructions apply when it comes to accomplishing a big dream: One bite at a time.
Tinkering embodies this spirit perfectly. Tinkering implies baby steps, not grand gestures: a little of this, a little of that.
I’ve accomplished some of my biggest dreams in the past few years. They were all accomplished with a healthy dose of tinkering, taking one baby step at a time.
The first step was just deciding to go for it.
The next step was to draw one comic strip.
The next step was to share it online.
The next step was to draw another one.
Like I said, baby steps. I ended up drawing thousands of comic strips, but not all at once. And even though the comic strip has been retired for well over a decade, the audience I grew and the lessons I learned were instrumental in getting me to where I am now.
People nod when I tell them to start with the first step because it makes sense. They laugh when I tell them the first step might be something drop-dead simple, like just deciding. Or reading a book. Or asking someone for advice. Or drawing one comic strip.
But then they can’t help themselves. They mentally forecast the second step, then the third, and maybe make it all the way to step seventeen before they get stuck, or encounter a fake no. In their head, step seventeen is extremely difficult, or impossible – or even more terrifying – completely unknown.
And that’s when the dream hits a roadblock and, more often than not, dies.
Do you have a dream in your heart? Don’t murder it just because you don’t know how you’ll ever overcome step seventeen.
Right now, step seventeen may seem hazy. Not to worry. It will become abundantly clear right after you take step sixteen.
Step seventeen may seem insurmountable. Cool. You might be surprised how the growth you experience in the first sixteen steps magically transforms it into a molehill.
And don’t be surprised if step seventeen looks quite a bit different than you imagine right now – or is rendered altogether irrelevant – after step twelve prompts you to take an unexpected turn. (Like the day I felt called to retire my comic strip.)
Repeat after me: I don’t have to know step seventeen before I take Step #1.
Start with Step #1. (And for the love of penguins, don’t combine six steps into one step!) Just start with lowly, insignificant Step #1. Yes, it might be obvious. So simple a child could do it. Too small to make any noticeable difference. Step #1 will most definitely be ALL of these things.
But only one question matters: Have. You. Done. It?
No? Then quit worrying about step seventeen and f@¢king do Step #1.
My apologies for the candor, but your dream matters to me and this really fires me up.
These elephants don’t eat themselves.