One of the most challenging aspects of starting a business is that I’m CEO, COO, CIO and just about everything else.
In other words, I’m in a position that requires me to see both the big picture and the nitty-gritty; from 10,000 feet above and at the granular level. However, this isn’t unique to me and it’s not even unique to business owners – we all need to be able to look at life through multiple lenses and that’s what this blog is about – the toggle approach to life.
For anyone feeling overwhelmed, confused or lost, this one is for you.
Since leaving my job and starting Project Endure, I’ve been faced with thousands of decisions and have been forced to pivot more times than I’d like. Being an entrepreneur means being a full time decision maker and throughout the process, I’ve felt overwhelmed many times. When my head is spinning and I don’t know what to do next, I fall back on a simple framework that was introduced to me by a client and close friend – that’s what I’d like to share now…
The Toggle Approach
In a world full of stimuli and potential opportunities, we need to be able to toggle between the big picture and the small details; between the far off future and the present moment. This can be done by switching between two vantage points.
Zoom In (take action)
In order to make decisions and take action (i.e. get stuff done), we need to zoom in on the here and now. To make progress, we need to be in the present, choose movement and iterate based on a constant flow of feedback. In the end, action creates clarity and without action, well… we lack clarity. For me, the time spent “zoomed in” is focused, particular and productive. While taking action and seeing details is important, if we remain in this mode for too long, we risk losing sight of the big picture and going off course – that’s goes for everything i life, not just business.
If you’re feeling paralyzed, zoom in.
Zoom Out (dream big)
The details are important but without a bigger picture can lose sight of who we want to be and where we want to go. In order to dream big and keep the details moving in an intentional direction, we need to zoom out and see the whole picture. We can’t reach our full potential if we think inside the box and remain where we’re comfortable. for me, the time spent “zoomed out” is grandiose, ambitious and creative. While this kind of thinking is important, if we remain in this mode for too long, we risk standing still (not taking action).
If you’re feeling overwhelmed (with details), zoom out.
The toggle approach works best when we zoom in and out on purpose, with purpose. In other words, to get the most out of life, we need to understand which lens we’re looking through and we need to let it serve it’s purpose. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to toggling but one thing is for sure – we need to toggle to make the best decisions. In addition to our own perspective, it often helps to recruit trusted friends, customers and partners to provide input on the process as a whole. Like Les Brown has said, “you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame” and sometimes it helps to use others to step out of your frame entirely. Take everything with a grain of salt but keeping an open mind is often best.
This has been a brief overview of how I see the toggle approach and I hope that it sparked something in how you see what you’re doing. Before we end this blog, let me leave you with a few words much wiser than mine..
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