Frightened of the Big Picture

Does it frighten you to think of the big picture?

I was speaking with someone yesterday about a project we are embarking on. We’ve been having these discussions for a while, but nothing ever seems to happen. We never seem to get any further. And, in between our regularly scheduled meetings, s/he never seems to have time to work on the project; never seems to have time to prepare for the meetings where we have to report out on progress.

Finally, yesterday, I suggested that it might help if s/he clear some time on the calendar and get really clear on what s/he wants the end-result to be.

“Cast your mind into the future,” I suggested. “Think five years out, 10 years, and imagine what this would look like when you have achieved the result you want to achieve. What would the qualities would this product have? What would the customer experience? What would your team experience?”

Then I looked closely at the face on my computer screen and realized s/he was panicking. S/he confirmed my intuition by talking about what a big project it was and how busy the team was and how many resources it would take and how there was so much to do.

So much to do.

It sounded familiar somehow and I realized that s/he was frightened of the big picture.

At first, it was a significant realization to me: people could be frightened of the big picture. Then I realized that this should not come as a surprise to me because my husband is the same way.

It is why, when I have asked him to help me make a list of everywhere we want to go, all the places in the world that we would like to travel, his mind goes blank and he says something mushy like, “I don’t care as long as I’m with you.” Which is sweet and melts my heart but is complete bullshit. It’s also why he stays in a job that causes him deep depression.

There are times I feel the same way about things — when you are stuck in your personal frame of reference, of things are, assuming that they will always be this way because they have always been this way (neither of which statement is true), it is very difficult to imagine a world where it is not this way. So I have compassion and empathy for fear of the big picture.

At the same time, you can’t live your life this way.

I love looking at the big picture, thinking about what could be. I’m at my happiest when I’m planning something totally unrealistically blue sky. Even if I don’t achieve it to the nth degree, even if the path changes under my feet as I go, I know I can make progress toward the horizon, and achieve great things.

Someone told me the other day that, once you have a strategic vision, the first step is to figure out a first step. You don’t have to have the whole path worked out, you just need to know the first step.

Because once you take the first step, the rest follow along.

My actions are my only true possessions. My actions are the path on which I walk.

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