Posts Tagged ‘the elephant cookbook’


A few years back, I started a book project that never quite materialized called (somewhat ironically) The Elephant Cookbook. It was based on that old adage:

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

The idea is that you accomplish large projects in small bites, dividing the project into small manageable steps. I’ve always felt bad about not finishing it, and it was not for lack of trying. I wanted to format the whole thing into “elephant recipes” and I just couldn’t make enough of them to make it work. The project has not been abandoned, I am just trying to eat too many elephants right now, so I put that recipe on the back burner so to speak, to continue the metaphor.

That being said, today I finished one elephant. My church has been doing a Bible study on the book of Acts for over a year, and I wrote the curriculum. Today I finished chapter 28’s study guide. We’ll be doing the study for probably another month, but the writing is done. One elephant down.

As you may know I am also working on my Masters of Divinity in Creative Ministry. I’m working though my fifth class and it is moving on fairly well. One of the other requirements for the course of study is a portfolio of art ministry work. I decided to do a series of paintings literally interpreting some of the visions from Daniel and Revelation. I have desired to do these forever and one of them is an elephant.
No not a literal elephant, but it’s an expression of the 144,000 from the book of revelation. It is a huge undertaking and while I’m not going to tell you exactly what it is, suffice it to say, it has 144,000 elements in it. So what am I doing. I’m eating the elephant. I have the project broken into 380 manageable steps and I am ticking them off one at a time. So far the first 13 units are done. The project is kind of fun but as time wears on, I can already feeling one element getting a little old. Having these manageable steps helps me to see both my progress and the light at the end of the tunnel. 4940 down 139060 to go.

Measuring your progress helps you to get the work down.

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A long time ago I came up with the idea for a book called The Elephant Cookbook. Ironically, based on the topic, I never finished it. I came up with a format that was clunky and a cute way of presenting the material that I just couldn’t quite make work. It’s still in my idea file and I pray that it can come together one day, but I had other projects that were ready to go and succeed so I changed my focus to bring them to life.

The idea behind The Elephant Cookbook was based on the idea of working on multiple deadlines, constant pressure and a to do list that seems like it will never get done. The title was conceived from the old joke, “How to you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

I’ve been there often. There is so much work to be done and you don’t know how you’ll ever accomplish it all. It all gets very daunting and if you look at it as a huge pile, the discouragement can become crippling. But what would happen if you ate that elephant one bite at a time, i.e. What if you broke the project down into small manageable steps and then set about to check each of those steps off your list one at a time. All of the sudden, each step accomplished feels like a victory and the more you check off the better you feel until all that’s left of that “elephant” are the bones.

Breaking things down into manageable steps is often the best way to reach your dreams and accomplish your goals. Now I just need to work out the bugs in The Elephant Cookbook. Oh and by the way it is okay to put a stuck project aside. Just don’t make a habit of starting without finishing. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Most of the time, you just need to take another bite and keep chewing.

One last thing, don’t leave God out of this process. He has come through for me when I was in over my head so many times it’s not even funny.