The Whole

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I have a busy week in front of me, with half a dozen projects running concurrently. Waking in the morning, sipping my first cup of coffee, my mind is awhirl with thoughts. After letting the chaos run amuck, once the coffee takes hold, I begin: “What’s important? What’s less so? What’s not? And where does what I am doing right now, fit into that?”

Those are likely the most important questions we should ask ourselves when we are starting anything. Whether, as my clients are often doing, you are designing a broadcast or media technology system, revamping your marketing, or retooling your life.

And if you have read anything, anything at all about getting to what you want in life and work those first three questions have shown up again and again. And no wonder. That old adage of “Know thyself” proves itself true in everything. It’s ageless and remains as true for the broadcast engineer as it does for the marketing manager or the artist.

But today, I am thinking, not on the first three questions, but on the last one. “Where does what I am doing right now fit into that?” Because one of the lessons I have learned in life is that while many of us have a vision of what we want, we often live our lives and do our work as if what we are doing has little bearing on what we SAY is important.

It happens all the time, from the broadcast client who tells me they want a state of the art facility, but then “dumbs it down” to such simplicity that it wastes the power, and the money they have invested in equipment, engineering, and design.

It happens all the time, like with the head of sales in companies that tell me they want to use marketing to grow sales, but “not until sales are up enough to pay for marketing.”

It happens all the time, like with the coaching client who tells me the changes they want to make, but always seems to find time to do everything EXCEPT the work that will lead them to their supposed goal.

We tend, as humans, to operate in the realm of the urgent. We react to what hits us. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. We have a vision, but everything else gets in the way. SO we get back to our vision when time and events allow us to come back and refocus on that vision.

But there is a problem with that. It dilutes our effort. Success builds on itself. But it takes a certain amount of energy to push it forward. Every time we abandon our vision to do something else, we have to begin anew, and push back against the resistance that sitting still causes.

But, if we keep that vision in front of us, if we make everything we do focus on that vision, then we are not fighting the resistance. Instead, we are letting inertia build. Success, however we define it, creates an energy of its own.

As a manager, I was constantly being asked “Why”. Why are we doing this? Why did I make this choice instead of that choice? Why, why, why?.

The constant asking of why was a blessing, even when it did not feel like it, because it gave me a chance, over and over again to explain how everything we did fit into the philosophy of who we were, and what was important. Everything. It allowed me to build corporate cultures that actually were what we said they were. Not just a slogan, but reality.

That is the principle of integrated marketing – that every element of your marketing program builds on every other element, making each piece more effective. It is the principle of The Law of Attraction for individuals – that our every thought and action builds on one another to bring us joy and success. And it is the principle of the best technology designs. It is the principle of everything GREAT.

But it doesn’t just happen. No. We have to think in that way, We have to relate everything to everything else. We aren’t fixing a problem. We aren’t answering a question. We aren’t designing a subprocess. We are building something whole, and we have to think of it as a whole, even in the smallest detail.

But doing this means we have to step back from the urgent. We have to live, work, sell, design, live as if what we believe is important actually IS important.

That’s often the hardest thing I have to do when I consult. The principle makes sense to them, but they rarely know HOW to get there. It’s often hard for them to start. But the ones who do, who stick with it and make themselves and their organizations conscious of the bigger picture, day after day, in everything they do, end up dramatically more successful than those who can’t break away from a life of the urgent, no matter what they are doing.

And I think that’s what most of us want.

What do you think?

Take care. Travel wisely.

Tom

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3 comments

  1. Excellent post. I’ve always found that
    the vision of something big, followed
    by laser-like focus in even everyday details, makes the biggest things
    eventually happen. Thoreau was
    right; build castles in the air and then
    work on the supports under them…

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