Would you rather see U2 from the top of the stadium or with General Admission tickets where you could watch so close you could touch Bono’s hand? Would you rather watch a baseball game from the front row or one level up? When you’re making your way through daily life would you rather put your nose to the grindstone with only a micro-view or do you have the ability and desire to take the long view?
I have strong opinions about the first two questions, and am quickly forming an opinion about the third:
- I would rather get up at 5:00 a.m., sit in line all day, and stand right in the front when the opening strains of the U2 concert begin. In fact, I’m going to do that in Chicago this July 5th.
- When I go to a baseball game at Miller Park to watch the Milwaukee Brewers I would rather sit up one level where I can have an overview of the whole field than sit in the front row where the perspective isn’t quite as good.
- I’m learning that taking the long view of tasks, work, and vocation is better than seeing only the task in front of me.
I’ve been learning about this by watching our kids make their way through their college experience. It’s been particularly clear this summer as I see them both working hard at jobs that, at first glance, may not seem to be career enhancing positions. But from my perspective (1000 feet up, as it were), I see the skills they are learning, the connections they are making, the responsibilities they are taking, and the networks they are building.
I’ve had telephone conversations with both kids, listening to them (mildly) complain about the weight and responsibility of full-time summer jobs. From the perspective of a parent I see the many ways these summer positions are preparing each of them for life in the working world and for vocations that will be fun and fulfilling.
It got me to thinking that I far too often take the near view in my own daily life. The old cliche is that I “can’t see the forest for the trees.” More accurately, I can’t see God’s plan for my life because my own near-sightedness gets in the way. When I take the time to step back, take the long view, head to the top of the stadium, I see from where I’ve come and to where I’m going.
Here’s what I’m trying to do:
- Beginning the work day prioritizing the things that will have the greatest impact.
- Ending the work day reviewing what I’ve done, what it meant, and what it means for tomorrow’s work.
- Take stock at the end of each week to see whether the goals set have been met, and if so, what new goals ought to be set.
- At least once a month taking some time to think about the major things that have taken place so far in the current year, and what that means for next steps as the year proceeds.
How do you take the long view in your daily life?