THE BIG PICTURE

THE BIG PICTURE

It occurs to me that it is probably not possible to convince humans to take a long-term view using argument or persuasion or logical thinking.  It seems to me that people focus on long-term because they want to or because they’re tired of hitting themselves upside the head all the time and really tired of having to climb out of potholes that turn out to be really deep and gnarly lava tubes.

LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE

You are not going to be able to talk yourself out of going for the short-term advantage if you haven’t developed a vision of The Big Picture.  And the real is that you are the only one who can do that for yourself.

Your Big Picture is not my Big Picture…or anybody else’s Big Picture.

Oh, yeah, you’ll nod your head at other-people wisdoms.  You may even try to make your walk like their walk, especially when you like the way their life looks from the outside.

But, if their vision really doesn’t resonate with you, doesn’t make you hungry, doesn’t make you fly, it never will get the kind of dedication and effort from you that can make it come real.

If the costs that admired one pays for their life is very high, you may not be willing to pay what they’ve had to pay for it.  So you quit doing your version of their vision and you tell yourself whatever it takes to get back to bed and pull the covers over your head.

WHY DO OTHER GUYS AND GALS…..

Medieval cathedral builders labored a lifetime with the fruits of their labors still a hundred years into the future.  The 70-year-old farmer plants a tree his grandkids will sit under.  Parents of young children try to lay a foundation of values and attitude that will serve an adult 20 year later.  A craftsman knows that mastery of an art form takes a lifetime of repetition and effort — whether the work sells or not.

Why do they do it?  Because they want to.  Because they have to.  Because they can’t not.

Here’s one answer.  It’s a YouTube video, “Why Do We Do It?  For the Ride – 2015” published by Official Triumph.  (I just like it for the beauty of it.)

THE REAL DEAL

Visions can take a long time to manifest.  They take concerted, continued effort, often at the expense of here-and-now pleasures and even of other long-term goals and aspirations.

A vision makes a big displacement in your life.  It shoves everything else out of the way.  (Visions are very rude.)

When your head is down and your ass is up and you’re working on building the road to your dream  you may not see a lot of the roadside scenery.  Visions make you blind sometimes.

queen-anne-counterbalance-1934
Queen Anne Counterbalance, 1934 from the Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
You may have to break the ties that bind you to a life that does not have room for the pictures you are seeing.

You may have to explode the structures you’ve spent a lifetime building inside yourself to get  yourself ready for the realities of that dream.

You may have to initiate changes in your life that are uncomfortable or  downright painful.

It will take way more time, way more effort, and a whole lot of humping and hustle to build the road to your dream.  And even if you do all that, there is no iron-clad guarantee that the dream will come real.

You may not last long enough or develop the stamina you need to stay the course.  You may get sidetracked.

Circumstances over which you have no control can co-opt you.  Other people could betray you.  The world may change and open doors might slam shut or the detours on the road take you to places where you would rather not be.

detour-sign
Detour by Cody Jung via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
As you get deeper into the dreamscape of your own making you may find that the vision turns hazy or morphs into some ugly nightmare that makes you run the other way.

Visions must be large to be worthy of such commitment.  I suppose that is why it often takes a lot of time and thinking to develop a vision with meaning and mana.

And if they are large, then they’re going to take everything you’ve got to give to it and demand even more from you.

BIGGER THAN JUST YOU

In his book, LIFE ON PURPOSE:  How Living For What Matters Changes Everything, Victor J. Strecher tells a story about Abraham Maslow, the founder of humanistic psychology.

Maslow was the guy who developed the concept of the “hierarchy of human needs.”  He proposed the theory that “self-actualization” was the ultimate stage in human development and numerous studies grew out of it that showed that this high point is, indeed, reachable only after more basic physical or safety needs were met.

This You-Tube video,  “An Introduction to Abraham H. Maslow’s A Theory of Human Motivation” published by Macat, is a short overview of the theory.

Macat is an on-line resource library that partners with the University of Cambridge to “empower development of creative and critical thinking.”  It’s a good site to explore.  They offer a free 30-day trial period for using their services and have developed programs for scholars and for business people.

Maslow’s book, TOWARD A PSYCHOLOGY OF BEING, became a classic.

According to Maslow’s motivation theory there are five interdependent levels of basic human needs that have to be satisfied in a strict sequence.  It says you can’t think of the next level until the needs at the lower levels have been met.

  • Physiological needs for survival and security are first. You need to stay alive and reproduce.  You need to feel safe in your life.
  • Social needs follow. Love and belonging are powerful motivators as well.  We humans do a lot for love and belonging.
  • Self-esteem needs are next. You want to feel worthy and respected.  Having status, all the signs that you are worthy and deserving of respect from other people, is a very real motivating force.
  • And then there’s self-actualization – achieving your goals and developing your own self-definition.

It makes sense.

If you’re starving, it’s unlikely that you’ll be using your creativity for more than getting the next scrap of food that will keep you going.

If you’re running from bombs and bad guys intent on killing you, there isn’t much time for developing your self-expression.

If you’re lonely in a world of hard, there probably won’t be a lot of room for joy and laughter and self-esteem.

Without self-esteem, there isn’t a heck of a lot of self-actualization possible. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to think about what you want to achieve if you’re mired and tangled up in all the unworthiness of you.

THE GLORY OF ME

Maslow’s idea caught on.  The “me-generation” was born.  Self-fulfillment was the key to human happy, the theory said, and we took to it like dolphins in the surf.  Sometimes, though, it got to be like crabs-in-a-bucket when other people had other agendas that did not include the happy of you.

And then, in 1969, in the latter part of his career, Maslow had an epiphany.  He said, “The fully developed (and very fortunate) human being working under the best conditions tend to be motivated by values which transcend his self.  They are not selfish any more in the old sense of that term.”

Strecher marvels that Maslow, at the absolute top of his field, would change his hugely popular model and say, essentially, “I was wrong.”  (Perhaps it was because Maslow apparently cared more about his own vision of understanding what motivates humans than he did about the tangible achievements of his own self-actualization.)

Maslow began to study “transcenders,” visionaries who spent their time working on ideas and visions that were larger than themselves.

He discovered that these individuals made great innovators and reached higher levels of creativity.  They exhibited, he said, “humility, a sense of smallness, awe before the tremendousness of the universe.”

Maslow died before he could explore this idea further.  After his death, a wide-ranging book, THE FARTHEST REACHES OF HUMAN NATURE, that contained Maslow’s scientific and philosophical essays on biology, synergy, creativity, and cognition as well  as his thoughts on self-actualization and the hierarchy of needs theory was published.  The book makes me wish he could have stayed with us longer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

“Vision” is really the what, the picture of the future you want to create.  Visions that are worthy require purpose — the why.

Purpose answers the question, “Why do we exist?”  It’s basically about looking for a way to contribute something of value to the world in some unique way.

The how of it all determines the way you walk when you’re following a vision.  All the steps you take should automatically fall into line if you can develop your vision.

If you’re reading this, then it’s likely that you’ve probably got  your physiological needs, your social needs and your self-esteem needs (more or less) covered and you’re working on the self-actualization part.

Maybe now is a good time to think on bigger things than your own teeny self.  It’s exciting that it’s possible, isn’t it?

Here’s a poem:


FANTASY

It’s just a fantasy

And they tell me it’s not real,

Untested by time or happenstance,

Untouched by human hands and mouths,

Unbattered still by Is,

Unheralded by Was.

And they are right.

 

And yet,

This fantasy that’s come to me

The one that glitters teasingly

Has brightened Is

And tempered Was

And still it flies.

 

I cannot say where it will lead,

This dream of mine I’m building.

I cannot say what time will bring

Or if it will come real.

I see this unreality

Burns bright and inexorably

It flames away the dross

Of what has been.

 

I think I’ll choose to keep my dream.

I think it looks real good on me.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit: North Shore, Molokai by Rosa Say via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

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8 thoughts on “THE BIG PICTURE

  1. Netta,
    The problem with many people nowadays in regards to the topic that you suggested is that with society and those that live in it being ADD; the thought of looking at things from a long-term view is almost impossible.

    A large portion of society can’t hold their attention spans on many things for more than 10 – 12 seconds. Heck even the way we are taught to create content for articles is to break everything up to where you have no more than 2 sentences per paragraph.

    Otherwise you lose the reader who soon is looking at other things.

    I also see the Internet as being a culprit. People visit sites by the dozens within a short span surfing all over the place. However they are unable to concentrate on any one thing for a period of time.

    Add in such sites as Twitter with their 140 character limit and no wonder a person can’t even think about what is going to happen 30 minutes down the road let alone one or even 10 years.

    Life was just different even 30 years ago. Families worked together, had meals together, talked about life together. Now everything is fractured with soccer mom bringing her 4 kids to separate athletic practices daily; something missing from that family-togetherness structure.

    Life is much better when you view it as having true long-lasting meaning. Look at the Big Picture in what you want to accomplish in life instead of just focusing in on a day by day basis in some type of disconnect.

    Finally you talked about that author Maslow and people having a “Me” attitude back several decades ago in his belief. Today it is has gotten much worse as people selfishly have a hard time getting along with the person down the street.

    Don’t know what it is going to take but all I know that right now, human beings are definitely continuing to go in the wrong direction!

    Jeff

    1. Hey Jeff:

      Thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. The world is what it is, my friend. The only thing each of us can do is do our own walk in our own way the best way we know how, and maybe cheer each other onward to better. My thought, anyway.

      Please do come again.

  2. I really enjoyed your article as you articulately worked through the self discovery. I studied Maslow’s in Nursing School 20 years ago and I have carried the principles throughout my life and my nursing practice. I do think it about the true meaning of things, you are remembered by what do in the world…Keep impacting lives! Many Blessing, Heather

    1. Hey Heather: Thanks for your visit and your thoughts on it all. Please do come again….

  3. I was really touched about this website because it truly comes from the heart and her passion to write. I noticed right off the bat when you navigate to the homepage that you will find a complete index of her poems which provides easy access to the poetry reader. She shares her personal story in such great detail and along with the imagery, you can share along with her testimony and if you can relate to it, it makes you feel better and provides hope to your life. The imagery pertains to the subject presented and there are some pretty interesting videos to watch too. Well done!

    1. Hey Kathy: 

      Thank you for the visits and for your kind words.  I do appreciate them.  Please do come again.

  4. Hei,
    really great post, reading through that brought back many memories of my own journey to acheive my vision. It was definitely not a smooth road and one which involved a lot of heartache, tears, loneliness and loss along the way, but the vision was the thing that helped me to get back up after each disappointment. Sometimes I would wonder why or if it was even worth getting back up or if I should just give up on my vision and even when I had all but given up on ever acheiving the vision it still simmered away deep down inside as a form of hope, the big picture that I hoped would eventuate from everything that I had done in life to that point. Now I can happily say that I have acheived that vision, I have the job I always dreamed of, doing something that I dreamed of and even life in a neighbourhood that resembles the one I dreamed of creating as a child.
    I am thankful now that I never actually fully gave up on the dream and that the Big Picture still framed everything I was doing in those hard years.

    1. Hey Tony:

      Thanks for the visit and for sharing your story.  Good on ya!  You made your dream come real and you’re still working on it.  Cool!

      Please do come again!

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