During a recent shopping trip, I witnessed a car accident. It was almost surreal how it played out. When I pulled into the parking spot, a woman in the car in front of me was preparing to back out. I noticed there was a car stopped behind her. As I got out of my car, the woman began backing out. The stopped car began honking. The woman who was backing out seemed to be looking straight ahead, instead of in the rearview mirror. The other car continued honking as I yelled the only thing I could think of: “Hey, lady!” She didn’t stop until she hit the other car.
Where we are looking within our company has a big impact on what we see. Oftentimes our attention is drawn to the most visible issue or the one creating a lot of noise in our lives. The nosiest problem isn’t necessarily the most critical problem. Oftentimes critical problems are sneaky, lying in wait until we least expect them to surface.
How do you keep the right perspective? Here are a few tips:
Regularly remind yourself the purpose of your project, department, or company. Oftentimes, when we are dealing with issues, we don’t look at them within the perspective of what we are ultimately trying to achieve. Is the problem you are trying to solve impacting the overall purpose? If not, maybe you can delegate the issue, solve it as you have time, or not solve it at all.
Don’t solve issues that don’t need to be solved. Is the problem or issue really a problem or issue, or is it just an annoyance? Sometimes problems are really just an inconvenience. If the issue isn’t impacting the purpose, productivity, or morale, it isn’t worth your time.
Get someone else’s perspective who isn’t directly impacted. Have you ever told a friend about a problem you are having, and they don’t seem to see what the big deal is, offering what they believe to be a reasonable solution? Sometimes when we are in the middle of an issue, it seems bigger than it really is, and we miss an obvious solution. Talk to a mentor or some other impartial person to see what they think.
Take a step back. Avoid tunnel vision by taking a step back and looking at the entire situation. Adjust the timeframe and scope of the perspective you are using to view the problem. Instead of thinking short-term and narrowly, think out a few years and at a higher level. If it’s a project, think in terms of the program or the business unit you are helping. Sometimes taking a broader view can give you unique solutions and perspectives.
When we have a narrow focus, or when we don’t change our perspective, we can often get tunnel vision and miss the bigger issues. Make sure you use all your mirrors and know what you are backing into.
Jana Axline is president and leadership coach at Axline Solutions. Through her leadership musings she hopes to inspire audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Axline Solutions.