Take a Step Higher

We’ve often heard of rising to “the 30,000 foot view” of what’s going on in a particular situation. It’s considered an excellent way to get out from under the details and pressures of immediate concerns. Elevating your perspective helps you see the overall factors and forces currently at play around you, as well as remember the past and contemplate the future.

Taking a step higher is an exercise that’s valuable enough for me to suggest you make this a big part of your approach to improving the results you get in your own work and your life.

There are several good reasons for you to try adopting, as often as necessary, a broader outlook on your own situation(s). These include:

Gain Clarity

From time to time, your work and your life have a way of becoming more complex:

  • Trade-offs seem more difficult to balance.
  • Choices become more nuanced.
  • Particular options may be confusing to perceive and understand.
  • The layers of complexity can themselves become highly intertwined.

Who among us has never encountered situations in which the many twists and tangles of possibility, and of potential consequences for doing and not doing various actions, require more time and thought to understand than we can give them – particularly when we’re fully occupied with handling our day-to-day responsibilities and opportunities?

That’s why taking extra time – from a few moments to several hours or even longer – to reflect on your situation and puzzle out your best ways forward can be so important and productive.

For example, in thinking about the tasks, projects, and goals that currently occupy your time and efforts, at a minimum you can investigate:

  • Which are the most and least important?
  • Which can safely be abandoned or delayed?
  • Where are the delays and bottlenecks, and what can you do to alleviate them?

Revisit Neglected Matters

Scientists tell us we can focus on no more than a handful of matters at any one time (some say: only one). So it’s natural that we regularly neglect at least some of what’s actually important.

Taking time to elevate our vantage point creates easy opportunities to review and revisit some of these neglected matters and either think them through or just put them back where they belong in the overall queue of items we’re trying to handle.

This is important because these neglected matters often include:

  • Long-desired tasks, projects, and goals that could bring a great deal of satisfaction and reward.
  • Overlooked opportunities and possibilities that can evaporate if we neglect them too long.
  • Misunderstood warnings and green-lights that could lead to major impacts – negative or positive – on our future productivity, satisfaction, and success.

Set Intentions

Gaining an elevated view of our current situation creates wonderful opportunities to change course. A higher-level review can facilitate a pivot to devoting our energies toward something different and potentially better than we would most probably pursue if we were simply to continue in our current direction.

By looking over the whole situation from on high, we can more easily spot the pitfalls we’d like to avoid, along with the rewards and destinations we’d like to attain.

With the benefit of this broader perspective, we are automatically removed from the day-to-day pressures that usually drive our choices, which makes it easier to more consciously set our intentions and select our range of possible actions going forward.

We can use this opportunity to think about:

  • Whether our values are well-enough reflected in our actions and agenda.
  • Whether we’re properly balancing our work and our life.
  • The behavior patterns we may be embracing, and whether they tend more toward promoting success or failure.
  • What and how we are learning to improve ourselves and perform better.

Gain Closure

Aside from the practicality of gaining clarity, revisiting neglected matters, and setting intentions, taking a step higher can also provide a powerful emotional payoff. It can allow us to put to rest whatever problems, disappointments, errors, and other matters from the past that still retain a hold on us.      

Unless you take the time to view such matters from an elevated perspective, you may still:

  • Beat yourself up over mistakes.
  • Lament over missed opportunities.
  • Dwell too long on past triumphs and wins.
  • Repeatedly re-think past situations you believe you could have handled better.
  • Repeatedly re-run and revise varied scenarios for future action without gaining any strong recognition of which one is mostly likely to work out best.

Taking a step higher can help you get past these emotional detours and reduce the steady drag they may unconsciously exert on you.

Done correctly, taking a step higher helps you shed baggage, reduce drag, and avoid sidetracks and other distractions. The result is often a stronger, more streamlined effort to complete the tasks, projects, and goals that mean the most and offer the best promise of productivity and success.

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