Step back…. Take a look. Are you looking at the big picture? Or are you mired in the details?

When I was in high school, I joined the yearbook staff in my senior year. I spent that year learning the techniques used in creating a great yearbook.

“Pictures should be closest to the seam”

“Text should be placed outbound of pictures.”

“White space if present should be left towards the edges.”

All of this was mastered by learning the “rules”. Again, later in life, I learned the “rules” of another artistic endeavor… painting.

“Always put lighter colors on after darker.”

“Create lines with your shapes that draw the viewer’s attention to (this) spot.”

“Paint images from far-away to close-by.”

As I become aware of these rules and watched people who were more involved in these pursuits than I, I learned something. Sometimes we lose focus of the big picture by concentrating on all the details. I always thought that whether a yearbook or a painting, the product should be visually appealing. If not, the details don’t matter. In the same way, I believe any creation should finally be looked at from a distance. Does it do what was intended?

My wife, when asked “Honey, how does this tie look?”, used to step up close to me, bring her eyes down close to the tie, and look for a speck of color in the tie that matched exactly with my shirt or my coat. I never did understand why she wouldn’t just look at me from where she was and judge if I looked good in the overall outfit.

So, If you are a doctor, does your patient leave feeling better? If you are a teacher, does your student know more now than before? If you are picking out your husband’s tie, does he look good before he heads out the door?

Please tell me about a time when you realized that you were spending all your time on the details, and had lost sight of you the overall project.

Copyright 2007 Michael Cortes

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