“One sees qualities at a distance and defects at close range.” Victor Hugo
I’ve just returned from a two-day technology conference. I found it very upbeat and thought-provoking. Ready to leave on a positive note, I was disturbed by a negative event that occurred in the last session.
Teachers were given the opportunity to share in a two-minute slapdown which was going rather well until one guy was randomly picked. Instead of investing his time in finding something good about the conference to share with everyone, he had spent enormous energy preparing a very rude speech that put down pretty much everything the conference had been building, including the keynote speaker. Yes, he was eloquent and articulate, but what a waste of his time and energy.
Pulling back and looking at the big picture, I’ve been wondering whether or not I’m ever like this man. If I look closely, I’ll have to say yes. There are times when a group of people are building an idea, and I am there ready to shoot it down. The bottom line is that I really do love change. I thrive on it, but if I look closely, I’ll see that I like changes that I initiate the most.
Sometimes looking at the ugly in someone else can help us make needed changes. However, there are times when looking too closely can be detrimental.
I suggest we find a good balance between big picture and microscopic views. Here are a few reminders:
1. If we can see someone’s facial hairs, let’s move back. Scrutinizing a person is not our job. Being professional requires a certain persona, of which counting facial hairs should not be included.
2. If we don’t recognize the face of the person talking, let’s look more closely. Being too far removed from people becomes problematic, especially if we are the one enforcing rules on them. Being involved in the extra work being added to staff can usually help us make wiser decisions. In Thailand, there is a saying that labels a person as being “stuck to the ground.” When rules are being enforced, we want them enforced by someone who is stuck to the ground instead of flying around in the sky somewhere.
3. If our thinking has turned completely negative about a person, let’s move away from them and try to recall some good things they’ve contributed. We have staff who have soured over time. They are still amazing people, but have burned out giving away their best. Leadership can sometimes get the wrong impression of these valuable players. When we step back and recall their contributions, we may find ways to reinstate them.
4. If we smell something unpleasant, let’s move back. On occasions, we need to walk away and let the problem get solved. Returning to the table on another occasion might be the best thing in some situations.
5. If we feel inspired and motivated, we’ve found the optimal distance. When things are lined up, we need to move and grow. These are times in life when we can most easily succeed by keeping the vision and moving with it.
Our best position is to be able to see both the forest and the trees. When we are missing one of these two, we may need to adjust a bit.
Are we looking too closely at something? Take a minute and share with us some of the ways you’ve made adjustments.