One of the most important lessons I ever learned involved a LEGO kit, of all things. A few years ago, for Christmas, Jerry surprised me with the LEGO Ultimate Collector’s version of the Millenium Falcon (I have always been a huge “Star Wars” nerd… 🙂 )
As I unwrapped the massive box, I was completely blown away. However, that sense of joy and delight soon became tinged with a bit of distress – this thing was HUGE! Over 6,000 pieces, a 150-page assembly manual. To this day, I remember the sense of complete dismay I felt as I sat on the floor, surrounded by the bags and bags of LEGO pieces that made up the kit. I was absolutely overwhelmed. I looked at the amazing picture on the box, and felt, without question, I would never, NEVER be able to build THAT.
However, if I was going to fail, I decided, I was going to go down swinging. So, I picked up the instructions and read step 1. Piece A into piece B. Okay, so far so good. Then step 2. Then 3. Then 4.
A few hours later, I looked up and realized that I had made visible progress. I still had a long way to go, but I could start to see the outlines of the chassis. The next day, I kept at it. And the next, and the next. Overall, it took me 2 weeks, about 4 hours a day to get it done. But I did.
Sitting back, looking at the completed model, 3-feet long and weighing 15 pounds, I was amazed that I had actually pulled it off. But then, as I thought about it, I realized something important. Something so vital that I have carried it with me since. The most elaborate project can be broken down into simple, achievable steps. Hundreds of steps, maybe, but each single step is doable. Do enough of those steps, and suddenly the project is done.
So these days, when I find myself staring at some impossibly complex challenge, overwhelmed and paralyzed at the scope of work before me, I remember that Millennium Falcon. And then I start on step 1.