The Big Picture

Published March 7, 2017 by monika

I’ve started writing several blog posts over the last few days. Each time the writing is perfectly fine. The subject matter reasonably engaging. But ultimately the pieces have failed to spark. To catch. To make my mind shift in twists and turns, I haven’t gone off on a tangent in my research or my thinking. There were no rabbit holes of joy for me to fall down as I took my brain for a walk.

Until I watched a small clip of Oprah Winfrey talking about some advice she got from her friend Maya Angelou. Never mind the dream dinner party guestlist, this is dream drinking rum by the fire and laughing until your sides ache guest list. And Oprah said of Maya: 

“I remember when I opened my school in South Africa and I said to Maya Angelou, ‘Gee this will be my legacy.’ And Maya in her Maya way said, ‘You have no idea what your legacy will be. Your legacy is what you do everyday. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped, that’s your legacy’.”

And so I am going to write about the big picture and the detail. It’s so easy to look only to the big gestures. Philanthropic, or organisational, and to place value only on those. Too easy to ignore the small things we do every day that can alter the course of a company, an organisation, or a life.  

I’ve written before about the macro and micro failures that can damage a business, but this is the flip side of that coin. We look at giant, complicated restructures of companies. We consider a whole new product, or logo, or department. We think that the bigger our gesture, the bigger our success. The bigger the risk we take, the bigger the reward well receive.

But what of the detail? What of looking at the operational side of the business and just thinking ‘what are we missing when we communicate with our customers?’ Or taking a moment to consider staff morale and what small things might begin to make a difference.

When we only look at the grand changes, we can become paralysed. We look at how much investment of time and money is needed and we decide we can’t do it right now. We put off the changes that need to happen. We wait until we’re in a better position to make the change. When we look at the small changes, the steps we can take in the next 5 minutes, in the next hour, the changes we can make every day, then we’ll start jumping along those stepping stones that will help us do what we do, but better.