It is common to hear that leaders need vision. Usually what is meant by this is that a leader must have a goal or a picture of the future to be achieved. The leader must be committed to the vision and then share it with others to make it a reality.
This is all true, but there is another aspect of vision that I think is equally important. A leader must have the vision to remain constantly aware of their position within the big picture. A leader needs to understand proportion to keep things in perspective.
Here’s a quick story to illustrate. I love to draw. I was working on a drawing and there was a particularly intricate section of the scene I was drawing. I wanted to get it just right so I zoned in and worked diligently to get it just right. Finally, I had it. I examined every detail and confirmed that it was perfect.
Then I took a step back and realized that it was way out of proportion with the rest of the scene. I had gotten too focused on what was right in front of my face and I lost the big picture. All that work had gotten me no closer to my final goal of rendering the scene. In fact, I was farther from my goal. I now had to redo either the section I had just completed, or I had to redo all my work on the remainder of the scene to bring it back into correct proportion.
As leaders we can fall into the same trap. It is easy to get focused on one area or aspect and as a result put our overall progress on hold. Before investing your time and energy in a project or area ask yourself this one question:
What role does this project or area play in the overall accomplishment of my goal?
Having answered this question, it will be much easier to determine the appropriate amount of resources to invest, starting with your time.
I want to leave you with one other thought about keeping the big picture in mind. Understanding proportion will keep you from getting stuck on any given success or failure.
Too often people get bogged down by a failure; they are afraid to move forward. Once you recognize that the failure is simply a step on the way to success, not the end result of you effort, it becomes much easier to move on.
Many people also slow down or stop due to a success. They feel like the goal has been accomplished. Remembering the big picture is a reminder that just because there is a success now, the work isn’t over. You have to keep growing, innovating, and working with just as much intensity towards the ultimate goal. You can’t coast.
What is your big picture? Where are you at? Have you been letting success make you complacent or failure hold you back?
Now is the time take stock and press on!