Missing the big picture

Today I recalled the tendency for my early career performance reviews to be positive, “but David, you need to learn to see the Big Picture.” I always left feeling a little stupid because I didn’t know what to do about it. I also felt frustrated because those telling me I needed to see the big picture couldn’t even explain what it was, let alone how I should get there.”You just need to learn how.”

At every moment we are limited to observing only what our Way of Being allows us to observe – even if it is objectively there for another to see. To change how we are as an observer requires a perturbation in our nervous system. Telling someone they are not seeing the big picture is not enough. 

For this change to occur there must be an observer of how we observe. Only then can we make a positive change.

An episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares is on in the background as I write. Gordon is the coach helps failing restaurant owners observe what they are unable to observe themselves.

When you’ve hit a wall and don’t seem to be going where you need to, get someone to help you observe what you can’t see yourself. That somebody can be a coach, words written in a book/article, or a podcast. It can, with practice, even be ourselves. The process is called second-order learning.