Thursday, 20 June 2013


Keeping the big picture in

Ron Heifetz, one-time director of the Leadership Education Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, declares that the best leaders sustain a “balcony perspective” when leading. They find ways to hold the big picture out in front, without getting stuck in the daily messes of school life. I think that this piece of advice may also be applied to general daily living as well. For one, I think the whole picture is usually more beautiful and meaningful than individual segments/ parts of the same picture.
At my place of work, we have just completed a major special project of international standards that was extremely tasking, challenging, exciting and rewarding. Months of seemingly endless work went into it and we were all quite satisfied with the result of our labour. Surprisingly, now that the euphoria is over and the adrenaline has worn out, our regular work seems routine to me. I am here thinking: ‘why are we even doing this?’ but continuing in this pattern of thinking makes it easy for me to forget the ‘big picture’.  We have three different programmes that are like that but they are not our primary reason for existence as an organisation.
Life is full of special, exciting moments but it is also full of routine. Sometimes, the routine becomes overwhelming to the point that it sucks zest out of us. We all need a breather from time to time.
As we go through the hum-drum of daily living; in routine and ‘dead-end’ tasks, it is pretty easy to lose sight of the big picture. As a mother struggles with growing her career, feeding her family nutritious meals, doing the laundry, keeping the home tidy and attractive, keeping fit and desirable for herself and her husband, it is quite possible to forget exactly why those are necessary tasks- to nurture healthy, balanced children/family that can enjoy life together, be of benefit to one another, the immediate community and most importantly, obedient and useful to God.
As the father who continues to do without some fancy things your colleagues at work have all because you want to raise the expensive cost of quality education for your children, it is very important to keep the big picture in view. Else, it could become easily burdensome. Till date, I am always in awe and gratitude to my parents for the sacrifices they made to give my siblings and I the best they could afford. Note that I said "the best they could afford", not the best they could conveniently afford. There is a world of difference. Perhaps, they also tried to put the balcony view in perspective when they needed to.
As we go through the ‘routine’ of our daily Christian life- going to church, group fellowship, holding daily quiet times, giving offering in church and to other people, witnessing, participating in worship and many other things that comes with the turf, it is pretty easy for us to forget exactly why we are involved in those things- we want to keep in the faith and love of our Friend and Saviour. We also want Him to meet us doing exactly that.
Sometimes, joining and remaining in community (even Christian ones) is just downright difficult and hurtful. An important anchor for us will be to keep the balcony view in mind. It may not assuage the pain but it helps to remind us why we are involved in what we are involved in. The good side to this is that if our primary reason for starting out on the path is important to us, keeping the balcony view will help motivate us from time to time.
I also know that keeping the whole picture in view helps us to know when we have begun to derail and drift away from our primary purpose. This way, we can quickly get our acts together before much damage is done.
It is possible for a wonderful friend’s ‘annoying’ quirks to make us forget all the other reasons  we chose that person as a friend. And although I am not married, I’m guessing that focusing on the  irritating habits of a spouse can make one lose out on enjoying all the other reasons we earlier thought that person was a perfect mate. This way, keeping the bigger picture helps us relate in love and perhaps, mercy with the people in our lives.
When on a weight loss program, and your meal portions are reduced and you have to say no to certain desserts, it will help to look at the bigger picture of a healthier body than the immediate deprivation of pleasure. When we repeatedly say no to sex outside marriage, riotous tempers, financial corruption at work and other individual sins, it is important for us to keep the bigger picture of presenting ourselves as a spotless church to Christ. This way, we become cautioned of giving in to the ‘smaller’ sins.
It is easy for me to lose sight of the fact that when the page views ratings on this blog goes up, like it has been recently, my joy should be that (hopefully), more people are reading wholesome, edifying articles and learning about God through the site. It helps to remember that it is not just about the word count or article length, pictures and hyperlinks, SEOs and meta crawlers, page views or number of comments but that Jesus is glorified in every way possible through my writing.
Perhaps I should mention here that I do not refer to the Nebuchadnezzar kind of balcony survey (to gloat in pride) or the Davidic type (of peeping at naked women).
Right now, I can’t think of anything wrong with keeping the balcony view in perspective. Can you? I hope I will always remember to heed my own advice
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV)
What methods do you use to keep your focus in life? Kindly share with us in the comments section.


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