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"Doing the next thing..."


"Do the next thing..." was a phrase my 'Uncle Ed' used to say whenever someone got stuck on a project. Ed Moser and his family were Bible translators that my parents met in the early 60's at a UND summer linguistics program. Our families became close friends, albeit for just a week or two each summer. Ed died far too young, and shockingly unexpected, but many things he said and did continued to resonate with that program as his family continued their translation mission.

The phrase "Do the next thing..." has scriptural and practical reference, but I understand that Uncle Ed first heard the actual phrase from a poem often attributed to a missionary named Elizabeth Elliot.  However, Ms Elliot mentions that it was one of her mother's favorites, and other sources cite an unknown author, but with origins in Olde England or Scotland. Needless to say, it's an inspiring read, but the title itself has pushed me through MANY projects where I was simply locked down. "What do I do now?", I'd think. Then I'd hear my dad saying, "Well, you know what my buddy Ed Moser would say... "Do the next thing!" "

So there you go. Next time you get stuck on a big thing, or a thing that didn't quite go as planned, or something that was an utter failure - don't waste the rest of the day. Don't give up on the whole project. Don't drain the morale of the whole crew - just do the next thing! Clean up the work area; make Gatorade for the whole crew; reorganize the tools and materials. Do ANYTHING to keep the momentum going for the time you have available.

This goes for that ONE weekend you have for yardwork just as easily as it goes to fill your standard workday. If you hit a barrier, take a step back, step around it and DO THE NEXT THING!


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