Cultivate Big-Picture Thinking

Agbo Okwudili Paul
9 min readNov 20, 2023
Where success concerned

“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.”


Big-picture thinking can benefit any person in any profession. When somebody like Jack Welch tells a GE employee that the ongoing relationship with the customer is more important than the sale of an individual product, he’s reminding them of the big-picture.

When the two parents are fed up with potty training, poor grades, or fender-benders, and one reminds the other that the current difficult time is only as a temporary season than they benefit from thinking big picture.

Real estate developer Donald Trump quipped, “You have to think anyway so why not think big?”

Big-picture thinking brings wholeness and maturity to a person’s thinking. It brings perspective. It’s like making the frame of a picture bigger, in the process expanding not only what you can see, but what you able to do.

Spend time with big-picture thinkers, and you will find that they;

Learn Continually

Big-picture thinkers are never satisfied with what they already know. They are always visiting new places, reading new books, meeting new people, learning new skills. And because of that practice, they often are able to connect the unconnected. They are life long learners.

To helps me maintain a learner’s attitude, I spend a few moments every morning thinking about my learning opportunities for the day. As I review my calendar and to-do list-knowing whom I will meet that day, what I will read, which meetings I will attend-I note where I am most likely to learn something. Then I mentally cue myself to look attentively for something that will improve me in that situation. If you disire to keep learning, I want to encourage you to examine your day and look for opportunities to learn.

Listen Intentionally

An excellent way to broaden your experience is to listen to someone who has expertise is an area where you don’t. I search for such opportunities. One year I spoke to about 900 coaches and scouts at the senior Bowl, where graduating football players participate in their last collage game. I had the opportunity along with my son-in-law, Steve Miller, to have dinner with NFL head coaches Dave Wannstedt and Butch Davis. It’s not often that you get such an opportunity, so I asked them questions about teamwork and spent a lot of time listening to them. At the end of the evening, as Steve and I were walking to our car, he said to me, “John, I bet you asked those coaches a hundred question tonight. ”

“If I’m going to learn and grow”, I replied, “I must know what question to ask and know how to apply the answers to my life. Listening has taught me a lot more than talking.”

When you meet with people, it’s good to have an agenda so that you can learn. It’s a great way to partner with people who can do things you can’t Big-picture thinkers recognize that they don’t know lots of things. They frequently ask penetrating questions to enlarge their understanding and thinking. If you want to become a better big-picture thinker, then become a good listener.

Look Expansively

Writer Henry David Thoreau wrote“Many an object is not seen, though it falls within the range of our visual ray, because it does not come with the range of our intellectual ray.’’

Human beings habitually see their own world first. For example, when people arrive at a leadership conference put on by my company, they want to know where they’re going to park, whether they will be able to get a good (and comfortable) seat whether the speaker will will be”on," and if the breaks will be spaced right. When I arrive to speak at the same conference, I want to know that the lighting is good, the sound equipment is operating effectively, whether the speaker’s platform will be close enough to the people, etc. Who you are determines what you see and how you think.

Big-picture thinkers realize there is a world out there besides their own, and they make an effort to get outside themselves and see other people’s worlds through their eyes. It’s hard to the picture while inside the frame. To see how others see you must first find out how they think. Becoming a good listener certainly helps with that. So does getting over your personal agenda and trying to take the other person’s perspective.

Live Completely

French essayist Michel Eyquemde Montaigne wrote, “The values of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet live very little.”The truth is that you can spend your life any way you want, but you can spend it only once. becoming a big-picture thinker can help you to live wholeness, to live a very fulfilling life. People who see the big picture expand their experience because they expand experience fewer unwanted surprised, too, because they are more likely to see the many components involved in any given situation: issue, people, relationship, timing, and values. They are also, therefore, usually more tolerant of others people and their thinking. WHY YOU SHOULD RECEIVE THE WISDOM OF BIG-PICTURE THINKING intuitively, you probably recognize Big-picture thinking as beneficial few people want to be closed-minded No one sets out to be that way. But just in case you’re not completely convinced, consider several specific reasons why you should make the effort to become a better big-picture thinker:

1. Big-Picture Thinker Allows You to Lead

You can find many big-picture thinkers who aren’t leaders, but you will find few leaders who are not big picture thinker.

Leader must be able to do many important things for their people:

See the vission before their people do. They also see more of it. This allows them to...

Size up situations, taking into account many, variables. Leaders who see the big picture discern possibilities as well as problems to form a foundation to build the vission. Once leaders have done that, they can...

Sketch a picture of where the team is going, including any potential challenges or obstacles. The goal of leaders shouldn’t be merely to make their people fees good, but to help them be good and accomplish the dream. The vission, show how the future connects with the past to make the journey more meaningful. When leaders recognize this need for connection and bridge it, then they can...

Seize the moment when the timing is right. In leadership, when to move is as important as what you do. As Winston Churchill said, “There comes a special moment in everyone’s life, a moment for which that person was born... When he seize it... it is this finest hour. “

Whether building roads, planning a trip or moving in leadership, big-picture thinking allows you to enjoy more success. People who are constantly looking at the whole picture have the best chance of succeeding in any endeavor.

2 . Big-Picture Thinking Keeps You on Target

Thomas Fulter, chaplain to Charles 11 of England, observed,” He there is everywhere is nowhere." To get things done, you need focus. However, to get the right things done, you also need to consider the big picture.

Only by putting your daily activities in the context of the big picture will you be able to stay on target. As Alvin Toffler says, “you’ve got to think about" big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”

3. Big-Picture Thinking Allows You to See What Others See

One of the most important skills you can develop in human relations is the ability to see things from the other person’s point of view. It’s one of the keys to working with clients, satisfing customers, maintaining a marriage, rearing children, helping those who are less fortunate, etc. All human interactions are enhanced by the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes How? Look beyond yourself, your own interests, and your own world. When you work to consider an issue from every possible angle, examine it in the light of another’s history, discover the Interests and concerns of others, and try to see what others see. And that is a powerful thing.

4. Big-Picture Thinking Promotes Teamwork

If you participate in any kind of team activity, then you know how important it is that team members see the whole picture, not just their own part. Anytime a person doesn’t know how his work fits with that of his teammates, then the whole team is in trouble. The better the grasp team members have of the big picture, the greater their potential to work together as a team.

5. Big-Picture Thinking Keeps You from BeingCaught Up in the Mundane

Let’s face it: some aspects of everyday life are absolutely necessary but thoroughly understanding Big Picture thinkers don’t let the grind get to them, because they don’t lose sight of the all-important overview. They know that the person who targets the ultimate is a slave to the immediate.

6. Big-Picture Thinking Helps You to Chart-Uncharted Territory

Have you ever heard expression, well cross that bridge when we come to it”? That phrase undoubtedly was coined by someone who had trouble seeing the big picture. The world was built by people who”crossed bridge in their minds long before anyone else did. The only way to break new ground or move into uncharted territory is to look beyond the immediate and see the big picture. HOW TO ACQUIRE THE WISDOM OF BIG PICTURE THINKING if you desire to seize new opportunities and open new horizons, then you need to add big picture thinking to your abilities. To become a good thinker better able to see the big picture, keep in mind the following suggestions:

1. Don’t Strive for Certainly

Big-Picture thinker are comfortable with ambiguity. They don’t try to force every observation or piece of data into pre-formulated mental cubby holes. They think broadly and can juggle many seemingly contradictory thoughts in their minds. If you want to cultivate the ability to think big picture, then you must get used to embracing and dealing with complex and diverse ideas.

2. Learn from Every Experience

Big-picture thinkers broaden their outlook by striving to learn from every experience. They don’t rest on their successes, they learn from them. More importantly, they learn from their failures. They can do that because they remain teachable.

Varied experience-both positive and negative-help you see the big picture. The greater the variety of experience and success, the more potential to learn you have. If you disire to be a big picture thinker, then get out there and try a lot of things, take a lot of chances, and take time to learn after every victory or defeat.

3. Gain Insight from a Variety of People

Big Picture thinkers learn from their experience. But they also learn from experience they don’t have. That is, they learn by receiving insight from others- from customers, employees, colleagues, and leaders. If you disire to broaden your thinking and see more of the big picture, then seek out counselors to help you. But be wise in whom you ask for advice. Gaining insight from a variety of people doesn’t mean stopping anyone and everyone in hallways and grocery store lines and asking what they think about a given subject. Be selective. Take to people who know and care about you, who know their field, and who bring experience deeper and broader than your own.

4. Give Yourself Permission to Expand Your World

If you want to be a big-picture thinker, you will have to go against the flow of the world. Society wants to keep people in boxes. Most people are married mentally to the status quo. They want what was, not what can be. They seek safety and simple answers. To Think big-picture, you need to give yourself permission to go a different way, to break new ground, to find new worlds to conquer. And when your world does get bigger, you need to celebrate. Never forget there is more out there in the world than what you’ve experienced.

Keep learning, keep growing, and keep looking at the big picture! If you disire to be a good thinker, that’s what you need to do.

Thinking Question

Am I thinking beyond yourself and my world so that I process ideas with a holistic perspective?