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How to Eat an Elephant

I recently returned from a wonderful vacation in the U.S. Ispent some time with my family, visited some friends, andspent three weeks in Alaska, climbing Mt. McKinley. Mt. McKinley,or Denali, is the highest mountain in North America. Before I started the climb, I asked a climber who had justflown off the mountain if he had any last-minute advice."Climb one day at a time," he said wisely.

Our lead guide, who has six summits of Mt. Everest,reinforced this sage advice when he asked us, "How do youeat an elephant?" The answer, of course, is "One bite at atime." I'm taking this for granted, because I have nevereaten an elephant, nor do I plan to. It made me think,however, that we all have our own "elephants" to eat.Sometimes it is best to remind ourselves to "eat" them onebite at a time.

Our unforgettable climb began at 7,200 feet where wearrived by aircraft at the Kahiltna glacier. The thought ofascending to 20,320 over a distance of about 15 miles(somewhat steep) was a little daunting that first day. After 5days, we had only reached 11,000 feet but had coveredmore than half of the horizontal distance. This meant that theremaining elevation gain would be quite rapid. It wasimportant to travel slowly, both for acclimatization purposesand to become stronger rather than weaker as the climbcontinued.

We reached the summit 13 days after we landed on themountain. At times we traveled no faster than 1/4 mile perhour, breathing at a rate of 2-3 breaths per step as theamount of available oxygen gradually diminished. Therewere times when I thought I could only take one more step.So I would take it, and then I'd take one more, and onemore, until I had climbed for two more hours.

Every day I stayed focused on that day. I didn't think aboutall the climbing that lay ahead, just what my task for that daywas. At the beginning of each day, I knew I could do whathad to be done, whereas if I thought too far ahead, I might havedoubted my ability to finish.


What is the elephant in your life? Do you have a task that youhave been putting off because it seems to big too tackle? Whatabout a change you want to make in your life that would requiretime, patience and courage?

Write down at the top of a sheet of paper what it is that you want to do. Make a timeline for completion, and break the task into smaller, less intimidating steps. Continue breaking thetask down until you think you can manage each individual step.

Now start eating that elephant!

If you would like some support "eating your elephant," pleasedon't hesitate to send me an email!

Jenni Fogle, Personal Coach

Please email to subscribe to my free monthly newsletter or for more information about how coaching can enrich your life!


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