Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get the Big Picture

You’re sitting at a meeting, perky and straight-backed, notepad ready. As the agenda whips along, you feel like a caged canary watching a tennis game. Something whizzes back and forth but you’re not sure what it means. You study the other birds’ behavior — the shrugs, knowing glances, restless feet. Wha’? Huh? What’s going on in the aviary?

One of the scarred blue jays next to you takes pity and whispers what the true agenda is and what you’re really here to do. Oh. It’s your first lesson in getting the bigger picture. . .not in the strategic sense, but in what's really going on. In other words, the STATED reason for the meeting was THIS, but the TRUE agenda taking place is THAT. You have to learn the playbook of organizational behavior, and you learn it by watching, asking scarred blue jays, testing ideas/possibilities, getting it wrong, and in other ways expanding your understanding of how things work. It requires most of your pores and all of your senses. Don’t go to Amazon for the how-to book; this text will never be written.

The more you understand the big picture, the more you get to play big. The less you get it, the longer you stay in a lower place, where you will be consumed by the minutia and rigid procedures that are so appreciated on the lowest swing in the cage. The saddest fact is that the good-job-doers bitterly wonder why their exceptional performance lost out to the just-okay gladhanders who got the promotions. It's because the movers GOT IT and were willing to jump in and play the game by its rules.

Yes, you should do your job well; yes, God is in the details, but getting ahead requires you to open that big picture reality book ever wider and pick up your tennis racket.

No comments: