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Get In The Habit of Big Picture Thinking

By: Brian Kim - November 28, 2006

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Look at the big picture.

Easier said than done right? It’s only easy to look at the big picture AFTER we’ve achieved our goals. Only when we are on top of the mountain in terms of achieving our goal can we see the forest we traveled through, that dark forest where we felt completely lost at times.

During the journey, we are so intent on looking at the small things, like the leaves of a tree, that we fail to see the branches of it, the trunk, the roots, the soil, the hundreds of other trees next to it, and alas, the entire forest. We’ve got to step back, way back, and look at the forest, or in this case the big picture.

See the journey now by thinking of the big picture.

Thinking in terms of the big picture frames and guides our actions accordingly. How does doing what you're doing now help in terms of achieving that big picture you have in your mind? If you can’t think of an answer, then why are you doing it? If you're losing weight, how does eating that double fudge cake help you in terms of the big picture? It doesn’t. Pretty soon it’s just one bite. Then a slice. Then half the cake. Might as well keep going you say.

Thinking in the big picture gets us in what I like to call “domino effect thinking”. How does this one small action I’m partaking in help or hurt the big picture I have in my head? We soon develop the art of projection; a skill that few people have.

Most people rarely think of what the future implications of their actions are. Does that not scream irresponsibility? Let me drink 10 cups of beer and drive home. Let me party out all night when I have a final tomorrow. Let me go out with the boys before tomorrow’s presentation in front of the executive committee. You’d be surprised at how few people there are that master the art of projection.

People only look at the event or action itself, and fail to see the sphere of massive potential influence it can have in the future. Tell one person something bad and completely false about another and watch as the drama unfolds. You’ve seen this happen in school. The spread of rumors can get really ugly and all it takes is one little action.

Do you ever wonder why some mom and pop shops and restaurants are so successful in their community? They have mastered the art of big picture thinking. They treat each customer like gold. They go above and beyond expectations. This in turns makes the customer a repeat one AND makes the customer do the marketing for the business by telling their neighbors, friends, and family about the business. Big businesses can learn as much. A simple thank you from an employee can go a long way in retaining a customer and discounts to regular customers go a long way as well.

This habit doesn’t just apply to business or to achieving your goals. It applies to your everyday life as well. Every action you take ripples throughout the world. You matter. You shape the lives of those around you and those you are not even aware of.

So think twice before complaining. Think twice before spilling that secret. Think twice before quitting. Get in the habit of looking at the big picture. Is it really worth it? Is what you’re doing going toward or moving away from the big picture you have in your mind of yourself and the goals you want to achieve?

Form the big picture in your mind and let your life be guided toward it. You’ll find that the people who don’t think in the future have no such big picture in their mind. They have no idea who they want to be, where they want to go, what they want to achieve. The big picture in your mind is the lighthouse directing you where to set sail for shore in this windy storm called life. Let the big picture be your anchor. See how everything fits together in the big picture and you’ll find your actions becoming focused and guided toward it, bringing you that much closer to the inevitable realization of it.

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