riffs & rants blog

Eyes Too Big

Big Eyed Man
Dude’s eyes look like they might be too big for his head, not just his stomach.

When I was a little kid, the older folks – nearly ALL of them – had a saying they’d lay on me whenever I tried to impress at a gathering by piling food in heaps upon my plate, trying to express my maturity by emulating the appetites of the adults and the bigger kids,

“Mmm Hmmm. You better not let your eyes get too big for your stomach. Don’t bite off more than you can chew…”

I was always fascinated by the expression. It was so …expressive. My imagination would fire whenever I heard that, ‘Dont let your eyes be too big for your stomach.’ Whatever I could see I could have. Everything in my field of vision, for the having. What about the stuff I could see inside my head? I could imagine ALL sorts of stuff. Limitless. What about that? Everything imaginable, all mine, consumable. All for the having. As long as I had the stomach for it…

…which brought me up short every time. At least long enough to barely consider the relative wisdom of trying to fit an entire buffet on a single paper plate, the sheer weight of which was threatening to buckle the paper plate, making my skinny little wrists ache.

Child wasn't greedy or malicious; just young.
Child wasn’t greedy or malicious; just young.

Skip for a minute the megalomanical greed of a precocious child. Actually don’t. Let’s zero right in on it. That sage advice was intended to protect a precocious child from getting sick and and protect the gathering from a foolhardy, food -wasting child.

They weren’t trying to make me go hungry, they weren’t trying to cramp my style. They were cautioning me to take care of myself and be considerate of others.

Seems like good advice especially these days. With so much opportunity and so many ways to reach for, connect, attempt, and achieve, it seems easier than ever to do it all. To have it all. And even with the world of possibility at our fingertips, I’m not so sure we need it all. We’re entrepreneurs, not gluttons. We’re creatives, not control freaks. We’re artists, not automatons cranking out a gazillion widgets a minute.

We’re into imagining and crafting beautiful experiences for your clients and their customers, and sometimes the business of being in business feels like we’re forgetting our inner artisan. That’s why we’re not rushing to take on too much stuff and we’re not trying to grow too fast in a desperate mad rush – not biting off more than we can chew . It’s something we take to heart. We’re not afraid of or opposed to success. We’re not making a negative value judgment on ambition. We’re not saying don’t dream big. We’re simply choosing a path to success that hopefully remains infused with an artisan ideal of craft over crush in order that our ambitions to serve folks with excellence can be achieved. So we’re hoping that our eyes aren’t too big for our stomachs and our heads aren’t too big for our arms, like in this clip from Disney’s “Meet The Robinsons” (I call Disney, The Captain Obvious of All Mega Metaphor Factories).

(yes, i’m totally saying that ill-planned, less than thoughtful approaches are traits of dinosaurs of a bygone era. and yet, they walk amongst us to this day.)


I think my uncle put it best: “Try and stuff your face too full, you might choke yourself. No need to rush. Plenty to go ’round.”

So we like succeeding small. It adds up, and it fulfills us. Without the gut-busting gas and minimal choking. And before you know it, our capacities grow in line with our appetites.

So what do you think? Go for it all? Go it slow? Know any would-be entrepreneurs who bite off more than they can chew? Chime in.

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