A Project Management Lesson from a 6-Year-Old

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Credit: Instagram.com/essentiallywandering
Credit: Instagram.com/essentiallywandering

 

Ask an overwhelmed professional why they are stressed, and you are likely to hear, “I have so much to do!”

When a large project looms, it’s hard to comprehend the finish line. Is it ever going to be done? Sometimes the obstacles seem insurmountable.

The next time you feel that way–be inspired by a 6-year-old.

The photo above was taken by the mom of three boys. She and her husband, who recently retired from military service (thank you!) are embarking on an adventure of living in an Airstream trailer and traveling the country. At one of the stops they found a beautiful rocky beach, but with access to the water was difficult.

One of her boys didn’t let the rocks stop him. Oh, being a boy, you might be guessing that he just climbed right over them. (That’s fun, too.) But instead, he methodically moved one rock at a time, clearing a sandy access path to the beach.

“He kept at it and moved every. single. rock by hand. We had come down to the beach because I was so overwhelmed at the projects we are drowning in with the#airstream and this transition of #moving and had hit a breaking point. Watching him was a real lesson in taking our challenges one rock at a time and before we know it, we have moved mountains.

The next day the ocean was full of people enjoying the water there where they could not before.” – Karen Roush

 

This wasn’t easy. We aren’t talking about pebbles here, and the path he cleared is not just a foot or two long.

So what can we learn from a six-year-old about tackling big projects?

Believe it can be done. With childlike faith, he believed he could make a path to the water.  He didn’t think, “I’m six. There’s no way I can get down to the water.” When a large project looms, remind yourself that you are capable of accomplishing it.

Broaden your options. Sure, climbing over the rocks is an option. But it’s not that practical and can be painful. E figured out that with some work, a long-term better option could be made available.

Break it down. E moved one rock at a time. He wasn’t capable of carrying a bunch at once. With many projects, breaking them down into manageable tasks is a very helpful step.

Be diligent. One rock at a time, steady over time. He kept at it.  Consistently doing the tasks needed for the larger project will reveal results in due time.

Bless others. Not only did E clear a path for himself, his work helped the rest of his family. And they left the path intact. They got the joy of watching other people take it down to the beach where they could more fully interact with the water. I bet most of them wouldn’t have figured that a six-year-old cleared the path for them.  Who knows how many more will enjoy it after they leave? Think of the bigger impact of the project on your customers, clients, or those who follow your platform. Don’t underestimate the positive ripple effect it can have.

So what project do you have looming? Believe you can do it. Broaden your options. Break it down. Be diligent. And bless others. You have no excuses unless you are younger than six.

Special thanks to Essentially Wandering  for permission to use this photo and their contribution to this blog post.