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Writing a cv is like eating an elephant

Draw new ideas and inspiration from their experiences.

Writing a cv is like eating an elephant

Use your Career Tools to create your own work life story. We were heading for an overseas adventure but unlike most other middle aged passengers, we had no return tickets and only a vague idea where we were going. In late 2007 I boarded a plane in Brisbane Australia together with my wife Jo. We were heading for an overseas adventure but unlike most other middle aged passengers, we had no return tickets and only a vague idea where we were going or how long we would be away.

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A few days later in London we unpacked our BMW 1150 GS Adventure motorcycle, which had gone ahead by sea, filled the tank with fuel and started to ride. Twelve months and 50,000 km later, we packed the bike, by then named Elephant, into a crate in the Korean city of Gimpo, bought ourselves a cheap ticket to Brisbane and boarded another plane.

The journey from London to Seoul was much more than a long motorcycle ride. It reflected a dramatic change of lifestyle, the continuance of a long search for self and the beginning of a new career at a time in life when others were thinking about retirement.

Project Management: Eating an Elephant

Above all, it became a testament to our discovery that to change your life mostly you just need to start. We were different people on the warm autumn day when we un-crated Elephant in London. At that time we doubted our own ability to ride to Vladivostok and the end of the continent so much that we told no one of our ambitions.

And we stuck to that view. We stuck to it as the encroaching northern European winter drove us south over the Pyrenees and into Spain. We stuck to it as the weeks drifted into months in Morocco. We stuck to it though a bitterly cold mid-winter return to Spain and France and two days sleeping on the floor of a clapped-out Mediterranean ferry on the way to Tunis. And we stuck to it through weeks in Tunisia, through its deserts and Roman ruins.

We stuck to it all the way to the faded Tunisian resort town of Hammamet 25,000 kilometres, six months and eight countries after our start. With a week off and a lovely room overlooking a courtyard full of birds, we had our first real chance to consider our journey. Our one overriding feeling was about the interactions with people along writing a cv is like eating an elephant way. At every stop people had shown us kindness and demonstrated real interest in our journey.

We realised that people everywhere had an intuitive understanding, deep in our common culture, of the importance of a journey among strangers, a journey undertaken for its own sake. By the time we reached Hammamet the weight of the expectations of all those who had helped us was heavy in our saddle bags and this alone was enough for us to finally understand what we must do.

  • The simple truth is that to make a change, first you must make a start;
  • By the time we crossed the Urals out of the Russian west and raced towards Siberia, Team Elephant had been on the road for ten months;
  • At first it was for a few friends but as the weeks and the adventures mounted it improved and changed and reached a growing audience;
  • We fitted our spare set of tyres with hand tools then promptly destroyed them in less than 2000 km on murderous roads;
  • We were heading for an overseas adventure but unlike most other middle aged passengers, we had no return tickets and only a vague idea where we were going...

We decided we would ride to Vladivostok or break Elephant or ourselves in the attempt. It seemed the very least we could do.

  • And we could ride the mad Elephant like the devil himself was behind;
  • Your team will be naturally effective AND diverse if you select players who are excited to eat an elephant.

We packed our bags and caught a ferry for Sicily and then another to Greece and chased the last of the winter north towards the Baltic to wait for summer and our crossing into Russia. By the time we crossed the Urals out of the Russian west and raced towards Siberia, Team Elephant had been on the road for ten months.

Writing a cv is like eating an elephant

Little by little we had pared our all-up weight down by twenty kilograms from the 460 kg that rolled out of London. We had already survived injury, illness, breakdown, corrupt police, intransigent border guards and disappointment and been toughened by the experiences. We knew how to navigate and how to survive on the roads. We knew how to hunt and gather when we couldn't speak or read the lingo. And we could ride the mad Elephant like the devil himself was behind. In short, we were up for it.

And so we rode on into the endless birch forests of Siberia eating at truck stops and visiting towns where no one ever got off the Trans-Siberian and strangers never visited. We slept in bunk houses with travelling salesmen and in the occasional brothel. In Mongolia we found ourselves caught up in a civil uprising and the imposition of marshal law and in the Russian Far East we rode for 16 hours in one stretch and covered only 300 km then slept on the side of the road too tired to go on.

We fitted our spare set of tyres with hand tools then promptly destroyed them in less than 2000 km on murderous roads. But we kept going. We kept going until it was too far back to turn around.

We kept going until we were further from home than we could ever have imagined. We kept going until we rode into a wall of high summer humidity and clotted traffic, the city of Vladivostok and the chimera at the end of the continent. Vladivostok was an end of sorts, but we still had a long haul through South Korea to get Elephant and ourselves back to Australia and I at least, still had no idea what I would do with the rest of my life.

Throughout our journey I had kept a weekly blog. At first it was for a few friends but as the weeks and the adventures mounted it improved and changed and reached a growing audience. On return, there were many demands to turn the blog into a book and I was more than happy to oblige. I wrote like a madman and finished the first draft of the manuscript in a few months. Apart from its cathartic effect, the process of writing intrigued me.

It was so easy and yet so devilishly hard and I loved the creativity and emotional involvement of process. Before the travel book was done, I knew I needed to keep writing. I finished it in a hurry and pressed on with a second book; this time a novel. I knew nothing about the trade of writing but fired with a passion to tell a story, I was sure the most important thing to do was to get to work.

I started to write and started to learn my new trade at the same time. The hectic lonely months behind the keyboard rushed by. Despite each setback, I pressed on with confidence. Elephant, you see, had taught writing a cv is like eating an elephant simple truths that carried me forward. The first is that the rest of my life is mine to re-make as I wish and that I have the resourcefulness and determination to make of it anything I want.

The journey was proof enough of that. The second is less philosophical but somehow more profound. The simple truth is that to make a change, first you must make a start.

Planning, dreaming, talking and even education too easily give the impression of progress when none is being made. What is often needed is simple action. In my case that action was buying a couple of tickets, one-way. It was a small thing, done in a few minutes on the web after dinner, but it was the hardest and most important act of the journey that followed. Without it, I would still be working in a plastics factory and dreaming about having a different life.

It had started with the mundane action of buying a cheap ticket. For above all, the Elephant adventure had taught me this: You must act even in the face of uncertainty and with no guarantee of success.