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Big picture or detail?

Big picture or detail?  Which is your preference?  big picture

If you’ve ever completed a psychometric test it will probably have revealed that you have a preference and possibly even a strength for one over the other.  Some of us love the wide perspective a “big picture” approach can offer, enabling us to see connections and possibilities.  Some of us love the sense of understanding and stability that an “attention to detail” can offer.

There are times when taking that big picture or helicopter view can be really valuable.  It can allow us to step back from a problem, challenge or question and free up our thinking, understanding and awareness.  It gives us a sense of the whole of our experience in an integrated way.

detailThere are other times when zooming in to the detail has benefits.  When we need to take action, knowing the details can help us do so in a more focused and efficient way, enabling us to invest our time and effort precisely.  Awareness of the detail can help us appreciate the small shifts and subtle changes in our experience.

There are still other times when being able to move from big picture into detail and back again are important and perhaps even vital.  Such as assessing a potential dangerous situation or making a critical business decision each of which have potentially significant consequences for us and others.

Whatever your preference, it is possible (and maybe even desirable) to develop this ability to zoom in and out of your experience.  A really simple way to begin to do that is in every day activities like walking to the train station or up and down stairs.

  • Beginning by being aware of how the whole body feels as it moves.  Sensations, feelings even thoughts about what you are doing.
  • Then zoom in to particular aspects of your experience such as how the feet feel as you take each step.  Feeling the contact and pressure of the feet in the shoes and on the ground.  Or perhaps the feel of the air brushing past the face as you move though it.  Resting your attention on these sensations for a few moments.
  • Then zooming back out to the “big picture”.  Getting a sense of not just your internal feelings and thoughts but also a wider awareness of what is going on around you; sights, sounds, smells.

This zooming out, in and out again is a great way to train the mind to notice the whole picture and the details within that picture which strengthens that muscle of attention and gives you not only a richer experience but a greater quality of information on which to make decisions and take considered action.

Liked this post?  You might also like this one on Training the Mind – “Why don’t we train our mind like we train our body?”

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