During the Second World War, a father asked his son, who was the pilot of a bomber, how he would find his way back to England after a bombing run in Germany. His answers illustrate the value of perspective and the big picture.

First, he answered his father that he would “fly the beam,” that is follow the radio signal back home. But what if their radio was out of order, the father wanted to know. Then, his son answered, he would use his compass. And if his compass was broken by flack or damaged by bullets? Then, the son answered his dad, he would fly above the smoke and fog and dust and the clouds to where he could see the bright night stars, and navigate his way home by the stars.

In business, we tend to become desperate and overreact when we lose sight of the big picture, our overall objective, our “Why.”

During those times, we allow emotions and fear to rule our decisions and the way we treat others. We focus on the wrong things, just as we tend to do from a spiritual perspective, instead of having an objective perspective. So we win wars but lose battles. We let our egos run us, and we burn all the wrong bridges, violating our values in the process. Fear breeds aggression, so we make enemies of the wrong people. We tend to make rash decisions instead of calmly thinking through the consequences of our accusations, commitments, and purchases before making them.

Rise above the smoke and fog and dust and clouds of the immediate and be guided by the big picture in business and life. Have a plan, work your plan, be flexible in your methods, and read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Strategic thinkers see business as a game to be played. Xun Zi wrote, “In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.”

Think of people who created massive change in this world, achieved great things: Patton, Ayn Rand, Churchill, Alexander the Great, Jobs, Gates – these people had vision.

Robin Elliott