When I was in 5th grade, I was deep into Greek and Norse mythology. There was a pair of books in my school library that I would check out over and over and just absorb the stories. That and reading The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings led me directly to playing Dungeons and Dragons. Hey, laugh it up, cowboy. Yeah, I played D&D. Myles Garrett thinks you should chill about it, though.
As far as my favorite myths, Sisyphus, Tantalus, and Prometheus with their eternal torments never made the list. It wasn’t my thing, and I don’t think I could really grasp something like the continuous disappointment and seeming hopelessness of pushing a rock up the hill over and over. It’s not a 5th grade concept, at least it wasn’t to me. Then again, having spent this weekend cleaning up leaves in swirling Kansas winds, I think I can at least empathize a little better now…
Having spent the summer enjoying the lovely old oak trees, I knew it was coming of course. But even having cleaned up dozens of bags before, this weekend, with the trees finally bare, seemed like a Herculean task (see what I did there?) to finish off. Blowing the leaves together while the wind scoops them up, blows them back in my face, and twirls them around me… there were several times I wanted to just say screw it. But it needed to get done.
Get the Job Done
So how did it come to be? How did this:
become this an hour later?
Four things came together: a plan, determination, time, and the right tools for the job. Here’s the thing, friends – when I looked at the pile (note: that was just the back yard, which had less leaves) it felt like it wasn’t changing. I wasn’t sure I had enough bags to finish. Frankly, I just didn’t wanna.
I started chipping away at it. The plan to make the big pile and start chewing them up was working, even if it didn’t feel like it. After a while, though, I could see the small signs of progress. The first bag was full. The pile was noticeably smaller, so I kept going.
He’s seriously going to do a whole blog as an allegory for picking up leaves, isn’t he?
Yes. Yes I am.
Here Come De Allegory!
When you find yourself facing a problem, something that seems too big, too massive, just too damn much to do – well, the truth is, it IS too damn much to do… at one time.
Make a plan: start with where you want to end up. What big steps need to happen to get you there? What little steps need to be completed to make those big steps come true? There’s your plan.
Remember, as you plan, the wind is coming to make a mess. It may change your short term priorities; you can adjust those as needed but always keep an eye on the big steps and the end goal. You may get pushed off track for a bit, or need to take a pause, but get yourself back on line as soon as you can. That’s the determination part – if your end goal is important to you, you will keep yourself pushing towards it.
It’s going to take time. How much time? That’s hard to say, but each step along the way is one in the right direction. It will take as long as it takes. That’s the best answer I can give you; when it’s time to finish up, when it’s right, you will know.
The right tools for the job can mean actual tools, or people who help challenge you and lift you up. Your job is to recognize the tools (and people) that are helping you succeed, and the ones that are actually making your task tougher. Those are the ones you set aside, my friend. Maybe you come back to them later, maybe not – but for now, don’t let them hold you back.
In the end, there is no task too big, too massive, just too damn much to do – if you have the right tools for the job and are determined enough to take the time and do it right. Keep pushing that rock!