Some of the best advice I ever received came to me from a professor at the University of Michigan. This wisdom came not in the classroom… I never took any of his classes… but during an elevator ride.
The topic was my big project, my dissertation. And this can apply to any big project that is already coming up to your ears.
Literally, I was giving an elevator pitch to this prof about my plans for my dissertation, the big, all-consuming research project that I needed to create and complete in order to earn my degree.
Maybe he knew that my mouth was writing checks that my brain couldn’t cash. Or my mouth was submitting proposals that my brain couldn’t publish. Either way, he had heard this all before, probably countless times.
So as we got off the elevator, he pulled me aside and said “you’re making this all about you, but your project is part of a larger whole. In the big picture, it’s not the beginning and it’s not the end. So when you do your work, praise highly and move in increments.”
Keep this in mind when you tackle your next project, or find yourself in a middle of a mess and can’t figure out what to do next. Know that you are making an important contribution to something even bigger.