My daughter and I have recently visited the butterfly house in Vienna, where hundreds of colorful flying creatures were causing lots of “AH” and “UH” amongst the handful of visitors. We used our cameras to zoom in and zoom out in order to see the detailed structure and the beauty of the wings. In the next moment we had to zoom out so we could catch a group of wonderful bright blue butterflies enjoying the morning sun high up in the air. It’s not a big deal to zoom in and zoom out on any camera – just using 2 fingers on your phone, right? And both perspectives are essential for me and my daughter in the butterfly house to catch the beauty of the moment – in small detail as well as high up in the air.
From BIG to small
“Zooming” is not a skillset that recruiters currently look for actively, but it’s my personal synonym for being able to adapt, being agile and nimble, yet not overlooking the beauty of the moment and the bigger picture. To go from “big” to “small” just with a tiny move – like 2 fingers in case of our camera – will allow you in the volatile world to investigate the latest little detail on bites and bytes level and with the blink of an eye change perspectives and see the bigger connections.
We need that type of thinking that allows us to detect patterns, networks, cycles, symmetries on all levels. It’s those dynamic, vivid structures and relationships of people as well as data that play a key role in our digital future. The one who is able to recognize these patterns has a huge advantage to navigate through a fast-paced, complex world. Because this ability does not only help to have guidance in whatever you are doing it also allows to create new, simple, sustainable yet viable solutions on all levels.
There is so much power in this interplay – to zoom in and zoom out with the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, we have been trained to be consistent. To start in one way and not switch right in the next moment. We’ve been encouraged to study 1 subject and become an expert. We’ve been advised to stay with one employer at least for a certain time. We teach our kids to “decide what you want” and stay with their decision. It seems we are constantly tempted to play around with the zoom-factor whilst we are being told to decide for one over the other.
The more perspectives you can have, the higher the chances are to discover even more impactful patterns. It’s about sharpening your awareness for the big differences as well as the most obvious commonalities, in the “big” and in the “small” world. In a disruptive environment the one who is able to use the zoom in both ways will be the one ahead of the game. What’s easy to do on a camera for catching the beauty of butterflies, is in the real world of business an art, a true skill that you need to start practicing if you haven’t done so. Give it a try in the next hour: whatever task or challenge comes your way, try to zoom out for a moment to check the perspective and then zoom in within the next minute and see what if you did a deep dive to uncover the underlying patterns….it’s worth a try and both perspectives will be attractive, just like the colorful pattern on the butterfly’s wing as well as the group of butterflies dancing in the air!
If there is one thing for certain for me in these uncertain times, life is not only extremely complicated, it has become horribly complex. I deal with a whole plethora of different demands these days, but my personal resources available – my body and my mind – remained more or less the same for the last centuries: My fingers are the same, but need to do fast text messaging now instead of doing manual work. My brain – by medical definition – is still the same, but needs to juggle virtual meetings, augmented reality and distance learning instead of interacting with others face-to-face.
Interestingly enough, what remained constant over years though is the advice I have received from the people around me in order to succeed and handle all this complexity: family, friends and colleagues keep telling me I need to try harder to make it to the top – which “top” they are speaking of remains unclear. I am told I should learn and practice more in order to achieve – what to achieve is not being discussed. They tell me I should be grateful for what I have and bring passion to my work – if I’m really clear on my true passion is not being asked. They never talk about how important it is to have the permission to be yourself. To me that sounds like a whole lot of well-intended pieces of advice. However, I am not seeing any gamechanger moves here! Do you?
Getting back in the driver seat of my life and finally getting to where I feel I deserve to be is what I truly want! I do not believe it is a question of age, gender, personality, experience, income or education. I believe it is a question of having the right structures, the right mindset, and the right habits in place.
It is about giving myself permission to simply “Be Me.”
Starting with myself first does not feel like it has been very in vogue for decades. People say it is considered selfish, egocentric, self-obsessed. But, Hey! How can I possibly hope to guide and lead teams, or entire organizations for that matter, without fully understanding myself first?
As an experienced leader I have mastered the arts of achieving goals, getting things done, and motivating others to follow and to perform. The better I become as a leader, the more I find on my plate. This is mainly because the more I accomplish, the more I am given
The question though is not, if I can do what is being put on my plate, but if it is the right – the most important things – that move the needle for ME? Giving yourself permission to be focus on your things first is simply one aspect of self-care.
“Be Me” is a call to action for rearranging my focus-laser on me and my life. – It is for you too!
I know – now – that I do not have to deal with all the grins and bear it in order to achieve what matters most to me. I have found this hidden, beautiful trail aside from stressful hustle, overwhelm, and burnout. It is a path where I can trust my resilience and self-confidence muscles, instead of going through painful distraction, fatigue, and frenzy.
I know – now – that there is no trading in health for success because it simply does not work in the long run. It is a rather clear roadmap, which I found that allows me to feel energized, not only on a physical, but also emotional and mental level
I know – now – that I can take on challenges that do not cause any self-doubt or give me the FOMO (*fear of missing out) feeling. I can trust in my abilities and feel confident that I will figure out the best way going forward towards my personal Northstar.
I know – now – that I can be in a state of true happiness without having my favorite chocolate-cherry-therapy-cake or signing big deals for my business. It is not about working for some illusive monetary trophy or a super-achiever badge. I am now “in it” for the meaning and the impact my work has.
I know – now – that my role as a leader is for sure not about outperforming my personal past achievements as a lone expert. It’s primarily about adding value to all the other talents around me – guiding them to their own success stories.
I gave myself permission to “Be Me”. I consolidated all my findings along the way in a Rulebook of Structures, Mindsets and Healthy High Performance Habits that I’ve implemented in my life and that are being constantly fine-tuned. I now share these with talented individuals who can hear their own calling to “Be Me” and it’s one of the most rewarding things seeing others making this transformation themselves.
Rearranging my personal focus laser on me and my life first was most certainly not a sign of selfish and egocentric behavior. Instead it truly allows me to care better for others now.
Where are you? Have you given yourself permission to “Be Me”? The permission to be yourself is the actual gamechanger that will bring about inevitable positive results.