“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.”
Big-picture thinking can benefit any person in any profession. When somebody like Jack Welch tells a GE employee that the ongoing relationship with the customer is more important than the sale of an individual product, he’s reminding them of the big picture. When two parents are fed up with potty training, poor grades, or fender-benders, and one reminds the other that the current difficult time is only a temporary season, then they benefit from thinking big picture. Real estate developer Donald quipped, “You have to think anyway, so why not think big?” Big-picture thinking brings wholeness and maturity to a person’s thinking. It brings perspective. It’s like making the frame of a picture bigger, in the process expanding not only what you can see, but what you are able to do.
Spend time with big-picture thinkers, and you will find that they:
Big-picture thinkers are never satisfied with what they already know. They are always visiting new places, reading new books, meeting new people, learning new skills. And because of that practice, they often are able to connect the unconnected. They are lifelong learners.
To help me maintain a learner’s attitude, I spend a few moments every morning thinking about my learning opportunities for the day. As I review my calendar and to-do list—knowing whom I will meet that day, what I will read, which meetings I will attend—I note where I am most likely to learn something. Then I mentally cue myself to look attentively for something that will improve me in that situation. If you desire to keep learning, I want to encourage you to examine your day and look for opportunities to learn.
An excellent way to broaden your experience is to listen to someone who has expertise in an area where you don’t. I search for such opportunities. One year I spoke to about 900 coaches and scouts at the Senior Bowl, where graduating football players participate in their last college game. I had the opportunity, along with my son-in-law, Steve Miller, to have dinner with NFL head coaches Dave Wannstedt and Butch Davis. It’s not often that you get such an opportunity, so I asked them questions about teamwork and spent a lot of time listening to them. At the end of the evening, as Steve and I were walking to our car, he said to me, “John, I bet you asked those coaches a hundred questions tonight.”
“If I’m going to learn and grow,” I replied, “I must know what questions to ask and know how to apply the answers to my life. Listening has taught me a lot more than talking.”
When you meet with people, it’s good to have an agenda so that you can learn. It’s a great way Big-picture thinkers recognize that they don’t know lots of things. They frequently ask penetrating questions to enlarge their understanding and thinking. If you want to become a better big-picture thinker, then become a good listener.”
Excerpt From: John C. Maxwell. “How Successful People Think