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Seeing the big picture

  • Published
  • By Captain David B. Knight, Jr.
  • 451st Chaplain
One of the great challenges in life is to maintain a proper sense of perspective.

The word perspective relates to the word "optical" or "vision." A practical definition is, "The capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance." Perspective is how we see things, not just physically but circumstantially. Perspective is the ability to see the "big picture."

Many times we hear the advice, "have a good attitude." However, I believe that the secret to a good attitude is to have a proper sense of perspective. Having a proper sense of perspective is the ability to see the big picture about your job and the contribution that you are making towards the mission. Perspective means not getting focused on a momentary frustration with a work issue or even another co-worker. Having perspective enhances our attitude and changes our disposition. A person with perspective is able to better appreciate life in general.

The story is told of a man who moved from Colorado to Texas, and another man who moved from Texas to Colorado. Both men were asked how they liked living in their new location. The man from the plains of Texas said, "you can't see anything for all these mountains." The man from Colorado when reflecting on the plains of Texas said, "there are no mountains here so there is nothing to see." Neither man could appreciate his new surroundings because they had limited perspectives based on past experiences. The two men had truly become "stuck" in their perspectives and weren't willing to appreciate anything new or different.

The effort to have a good perspective must be more than just based on feelings. It is a choice to see beyond the obvious and see the possibilities. Perhaps you have found yourself feeling frustrated because of focusing only on the specific problem in front of you. During WWII General Creighton Abrams found himself and his troops surrounded on all sides. With characteristic optimism, he told his officers, "For the first time in the history of this campaign, we are now in a position to attack the enemy in any direction." Despite facing negative circumstances, General Abrams chose to have a positive perspective and he led his troops to victory.

The key to developing a healthy perspective is to take an honest evaluation of our outlook on life. As we do this self-assessment, let's be honest with ourselves and reflect on how we can improve our vantage point and start to see beyond the obvious and the possibilities instead of the problems. This reflection of self may lead us to seek a deeper sense of faith. My faith in God has definitely broadened my own sense of perspective. Perhaps we will seek encouragement from friends who see the potential in our lives. Perhaps we will choose to challenge ourselves to enhance our daily routines with healthy choices of improved physical fitness.

Remember, gaining perspective is always an effort. Just try walking to a steep overlook from which you can view a beautiful valley or canyon. Walking there may take effort, but those scenes of beauty are unforgettable experiences which enrich our lives. Afterwards we often say, "You sure can see things much better from up here."