“As you travel along life’s highway keep your mind upon your goal and focus on the donut and not upon the hole”. This was told to me by Mikki Williams at a speaking event some twenty plus years ago (is it really that long?). She was simply conveying the thoughts of someone else, a train conductor in the United States.
I love this humorous saying with a serious message as it goes to the heart of why so many people fail and/or become demotivated. It is an extension of the old sayings, “Can’t see the wood for the trees” or “Too close to the coalface to see the bigger picture”.
A lot of the people I work with in business find themselves trapped by issues which have sucked them in with their apparent importance to getting the job done, when in fact they should be looking at the ‘bigger picture’ and see how the issue fits into the wider concern of what they are trying to achieve.
When Leonardo Da Vinci worked on any of his major pieces of artwork, he would periodically have to step back to see how smaller section of the artwork he was working on, came together to create what would become another finished masterpiece.
The same approach is required of people in business, in fact anyone doing any job in any organisation would benefit from doing this; there is a need to understand how the work you do or the issue you are working on, connects to the wider business. What are the consequences of those either side of me, above and below me if this piece, this issue or my work is not done effectively?
Understanding the wider impact and connection of what we do leads to a greater focus of not letting problems arise or get out of hand; on getting the task completed and communicated effectively not just efficiently.
Realising the importance of what we are doing, no matter how small or large the activity, and how it delivers to the overall success of our organisation supports a greater motivation to ‘do a good job’. It will also lead to a greater willingness among staff to raise problems or errors when they happen or see them because they understand the greater consequence to the organisation.
So when you are so busy and focussed on your goals and your work, take five minutes from time to time to step back, see that ‘bigger picture’ and get the whole donut not just the crumbs.
Gary Payne, Director