“Rome was not built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.”
- James Clear
The saying “Rome was not built in a day” reminds us that great things take time. Whether it is becoming a great writer or beating a terrible virus, we must acknowledge that patience is essential.
However, often on the way to accomplishing greatness, we are hit by challenges. Concerning the size of the project, those challenges might not be that big. But at the moment, it feels as though we are trying to build Rome on that day.
Tackling a large task is part of everyday life for some of us, and it can lead to us feeling like we are trying to complete the impossible. So, here is a trick that will help you build Rome in a day when you feel like you have to. It starts with disassembling and ends with incremental growth.
Our Perspective Fools Us
Human vision is extremely good. We have some of the best eyes in the animal kingdom. Nevertheless, we are still tricked by simple illusions and contrasting colours. And the same applies to our perspectives. As Aristotle puts it, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Different people see this quote in numerous ways. However, the essence of the quote is that our perspective causes us to believe that the finished project is greater than the components used to make it.
A great example is a finished art piece like the Mona Lisa. We can not comprehend that the finished artwork comprises small sketches and detailed painting strokes. All we see is the finished product, and it appears so much greater than the strokes of a pen and a paintbrush.
It is the same on the days in which it appears we have to build Rome. Because our perspectives only allow us to see the finished product, our tasks for the day appear greater than they are. Therefore, to build Rome in a day, we must change our perspective to see the small details.
Disassembling Is The Key To Building Rome In A Day
We tend to hold negative connotations with the word disassemble. Most of the time, when something is broken. We need to disassemble it to put it all back together. Also, things become disassembled when they break, like a Lego sculpture or glass.
However, there is also a beauty in seeing things being broken down into their pieces. You can find satisfying videos of people slowly dissecting details to a sculpture or breaking down concepts.
The reality is, we are satisfied to see things being disassembled. We just struggle to be the one’s to do it, especially when it involves a large task. In most cases, we know the end goal.
A puzzle of 500 tiny pieces comes with a picture on the front of the box. Then we use our perspective to start assembling it. Piece by piece we start to move closer to the end goal, but we started at a single point.
It may have been the face or the hand of the person. But either way, we started with an initial perspective.
At each change in perspective, we see the problem in a new way. When it comes to a big task asking the question “where do I start?” might not be that useful. What matters is getting rid of the illusion of this great task. And instead, see it from a different angle.
Look into the closer details and start where you see best. And then gradually piece it together. You probably can not draw the Mona Lisa, but you might be able to draw the mouth, then the eye and then her finger.
Our initial perspective always tells us, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, but with a second and closer glance, we see the parts actually sum up to make the whole. So, maybe you can build Rome in a day, but do not start with Rome. Start with laying a brick.
A Useful Thought.
Originally published at https://tavian.blog on April 5, 2021.