The Big picture

I had a teacher in high school who always said “there are only two things you have to do in life – die and pay taxes, there is no way of getting around that.” As a former FBI agent, he had a way of immediately reducing the variable in every situation.

I recently lost a good friend and mentor that I somehow thought would live to be a ripe old age, he was the picture of health. He died at 74 last week. The good news is, that as long as I knew him, he had his eye on the big picture and lived above all the details that we all seem to get caught up in everyday life.

Just like a film with swooping wide-angle shots and detailed close-ups, every aspect of our life involves several different focal lengths.

On a day to day basis, our attention is probably on the details: the action steps we need to take to move from A to B and B to C. That’s probably a good thing – this is the level at which work gets done  At times, though, it’s vital that we take a step back. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the little steps of our projects, goals, and even life itself, without ever thinking much about where we really are heading.

Of course details are important, but it’s easy to get bogged down in a mass of actions. If life feels like a constant treadmill – running and running and never really getting anywhere – then we might find it hard to think of anything beyond the present moment.

The problem here is that, if you stay caught up in the details, nothing’s going to change. Sure, you might clear your inbox today – but you’ll just have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Sometimes, we find that we set out towards a big goal … only for the territory to change around you. The map you originally drew is no longer going to get you to where you want to go (or, alternatively, we’ve found a new and more attractive destination).

In a busy life, it can be tough to find the time and space to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of a particular project – or even our whole life.

Like everyone else, I struggle with the same problems of getting bogged down in the details of life, but all it takes is the passing of a friend to get my attention again and realize it is all about the big picture.

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