How To Eat The Elephant

Just show up.

Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” And he’s right and pithy, but I’ll expand and guide you through one of the hardest thing you can ever ‘show up’ for – eating an elephant. (I eat elephant almost everyday, so trust me on this one.)

How to Eat the Elephant

First, you’ve got to tell yourself you’re going to eat this damn elephant.

But before even attempting, make sure you have the right utensils. Go to your kitchen, grab a fork, a knife, and a plate. Bring these to the table. Bring your whole self to the table.

Sit down and look at the elephant before you, it’s pretty big. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. When you open them again only look at the elephant’s feet. The hardest part to eat. For you, right now, that’s all that exists. And it’s not as big a challenge as eating the whole thing at once. Open your eyes. See, no elephant – only a leg.

Take your knife, cut a piece off the leg, and with the fork bring it up to your lips, into your mouth, and chew. Pretty tough meat isn’t it? Don’t worry, remember what your mom told you as a kid, “20 chews then swallow.” 18… 19… 20, swallow. Now take your knife again, yes, we’re going to do it again.

Now the leg’s done. Close your eyes again. Open them. What do you know – another leg to eat. Pick up your knife and fork, get to work.

How’d those four legs taste like? Like hard eating right? Close your eyes. Open them. Ahhh, the torso, the meatiest part of all.

I know what you’re thinking, “There’s so much!” But hey, it’s not as tough as the legs you just ate. Take your knife, cut a piece off, then use the fork to bring it up to your parting lips, into your mouth, now pull the fork away – meat still in your mouth, and chew. Chew, chew, chew. This is why you’re here, to chew.

Finished with the torso? Good job. It’s all downhill from here. Close your eyes. Open them. A tail, a trunk, ears, and a head – the loose ends are all on your plate.

Wait?!!! Where are you going?! Sit back down! You’re almost done, I promise. You’re full? You can’t possibly eat anymore? Well, I have faith in you. Your stomach’s bigger than you give it credit. Please sit back down.

…Thank you.

Where were we? Oh that’s right, the loose ends. Your knife and fork still with you? Good. You know what to do.


Close your eyes. Open them. Empty plate. Wait, this can’t be. Quick, close your eyes. Open them. Empty plate. Hmmm, guess it was true. You’re done.You just ate the 26,000 pound elephant.

How do you feel? Accomplished? You should. Time to do as mother said though, clean the table. Pick up your plate, your knife, your fork – take them to the sink. Don’t worry about washing them now. Now, you sleep. You deserve it.

Tomorrow? Well, I didn’t really think about that. What do you do after you’ve eaten an elephant? Nothing much, ‘cept, eat another. Yeah, let’s do that; eat another elephant… Tomorrow. Today we rest.

So you see, I’ve figured out how to eat the elephant. What’s the elephant? It’s that big project you’ve been putting off. That dream you’ve placed somewhere in the future. It’s why you’ve been procrastinating, it’s 26,000 pounds and it scares you. Hell, it scares me too. Every day. But hakuna matata (it means “no worries”), you and I, we know exactly how to eat this thing don’t we? We’ve just got to show up (sit at the table), and eat bit by bit.

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