Zoom Out to Hone In on What is Important

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“An Awake leader can zoom in to understand detail and zoom out to see the big picture impacts.” – Awake Leadership

I have learned, largely through my experience at work as well as practicing and studying yoga, the importance of zooming out. So many times we get flustered and thrown off balance when something unexpected at work seems to be staring us in the face – a decision, a new obstacle, an urgent request, a conflict, or an issue. It seems unsolvable or frustrating in the moment. We often react by putting everything else aside and attempting to immediately solve it, fix it, or by trying to make it just go away. If we can’t solve it right away, we get anxious and it occupies some or all of our valuable focus. Through a lot of practice and experience with this type of scenario in my own life, I finally learned that I could much more skillfully, efficiently, and calmly respond to these types of stressful situations by zooming out instead of instantaneously reacting or getting obsessive about a complex new situation. My stress level, my contributions at work, and my relationships improve when I zoom out.

Zooming out involves pausing, stepping back, and looking at the larger picture of how this moment or scenario fits into the larger scheme of your life and contributions before taking action. If we think in terms of the larger timeline of our life, this moment is one small but meaningful chance to learn, take a positive action, and move forward toward our intentions. When we take the time to pause and zoom out to view each challenging, immediate situation from a broader perspective, we put it into a more real, spacious frame of reference. By creating this space, we don’t make hasty decisions in the moment that we later regret. We reconnect with our deeper intentions. We don’t go through the motions and make careless mistakes. We allow ourselves to let go of the stress and return to the fact that the current challenge we face is just that: a challenge.

When a new situation arises – an urgent e-mail, a desperate text message, or a conflict, pause. Step back and ask how urgent it really is. Can you take an extra few minutes, hours, or days to comprehend and think through it? Sometimes we even have to walk away or take a break for a while to allow our mind to let go of the urgency or gravity of the situation. Usually, when we do this, we realize that everything is really okay in the grand scheme of things. We can then think more clearly and take action from a calmer, more aligned mental space. Next, return to your larger intentions. Consider how your action – the words you use, the decision you make, or the tone you use – will impact the larger picture of who you are and what you are contributing. Also, remember that this is just one piece of your 1000 piece puzzle. You want every piece to be present and as shiny as possible but there are so many other important pieces too, to who you are as well as your contributions. When you zoom out, you can see more clearly where this piece, in what shape or form, will fit in and then more skillfully dive back into the detail to take action. Finally, and most importantly, ask how you could act out of maximum compassion for others and yourself.

It’s a big step toward freedom to step back and choose to not make an immediate situation your whole life in that moment but make it a part of your whole life. When we practice zooming out instead of freaking out, we become a proactive leader of our work and our life. Zoom out, offer your best, and receive the benefits.

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