The Blind Men and an Elephant
A long time ago, a king asked six blind men to discern what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of its body. The blind man who felt its leg concluded that the elephant was like a pillar. Another who felt its tail surmised that it was like a rope. The one who felt its trunk said it was like a tree branch. The man who felt its ear said the elephant was like a hand fan. Feeling the elephant’s belly, another blind man sagely replied that the elephant was like a wall. Lastly, the one who felt its tusk said it was like a solid pipe.
The king acknowledged that they were all right, but only partially so. He then explained that each of the blind men had touched a different part of the elephant. But in truth, the elephant was the sum of all of those parts.
A Matter of Perspective
This is an old story that originated from India. In the story, the king could see the big picture but the blind men could not. While each of the blind men could discern a small part of the big picture, they could not see how the parts fitted as a whole. As such, they did not arrive at an accurate description of the elephant. Only the king alone appreciated how the perspective of each blind man fitted into the larger whole.
It is no surprise that the blind men could not see the big picture. But it does go to show the difference in perspective between details and the bigger picture it forms. In life, it is not prudent to be blind to the big picture. Due to this lack of awareness, we could end up making grave mistakes that lead to needless problems at the worst of times. Seeing the big picture ensures we have a bird’s eye view that is always useful when it comes to decision making. This is especially so in a time of crisis.
The Big Picture and Change
Before change happens, signs that herald its coming usually precede it. But like the blind men, it is easy for us to focus on the details and hence miss the bigger picture involved. This can lead to choices and actions that may not be in our best interests. After all, we made them without a clear appreciation of the larger perspective. And as you can see from the story above, it often leads to the wrong conclusions. Being aware of the bigger picture makes a world of difference when it comes to dealing with change.
The Big Picture and Challenges
In our lives, we are likely to face adversity at some point or other. And to us, whatever challenge we face at a given moment may seem huge. Here, it helps to put things in perspective. Doing so helps us to remain detached and objective about how to resolve the issue at hand. To reach this frame of mind, we need to consider the big picture. We need to see all the events that are happening as a whole. What may seem large and overwhelming to us may be less frightening when we consider the larger perspective. It may not even matter as keenly in the long run. When we are able to see the big picture, we will be able to make better decisions.
Using Big Picture to Make Better Choices and Actions
Nothing happens to us in a vacuum. Everything that happens has a cause and an effect. While this is so, we might rarely be aware of the bigger picture unless we make an effort to notice it. To facilitate this process, here are some questions I ask myself to see the big picture.
-How are external factors affecting events?
-How will external factors and events affect my loved ones and me?
-How am I feeling internally? Am I sufficiently detached and objective?
-What kind of consequences will my actions and choices have on my loved ones and me in the future?
-Where does the path I am on lead to?
-What alternatives do I have? What else can I do?
-Am I making groundless assumptions? Is there any way to verify them?
-Is there anyone who can help me to resolve matters or to provide greater insights?
How do you feel about the seeing the big picture versus focusing on the details? Do you consider the big picture when you make choices? How does it affect your decision-making? Are there any other questions to ask that will help you to think of the big picture? Do share your thoughts and comments below!