There is an old saying, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” I hear people say this quite a bit meaning that a person is focused on detail and not on the big picture. While this is sometimes the case, more often than not I see people try to see the big picture without really understanding what makes it up.
When I first entered Special Forces I was a Weapons Sergeant. Part of my training was being totally familiar with a multitude of US and foreign weapons. A big test was known as the pile test. The instructors would take and disassemble 5 weapons, one from each sub group (pistol, submachine gun, light machinegun, heavy machinegun and rifle) pile them together and tell you to put them back together and perform a functions check in a specified time period. A lot of people freaked out about this. They would see the pile sitting in front of them and freeze.
I took it a different way. In rehearsal for the big test, I looked at each individual piece and became very familiar with it. I took all the pieces that looked alike and studied the differences. On the day of the test i simply went a piece a time recognized which weapon it came from and separated out the pieces and then put together the weapons.
When we don’t understand what makes up the big picture we become overwhelmed. Details are what give us perspective. Instead of scanning a task, take some time and understand the different components of it. I guarantee you will have better results.
Photo by glennwilliampdx, Flickr cc 2.0