Big Picture Thinker

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Would you describe yourself as a detail-oriented person? Does your job entail a great deal of meticulous or repetitive work? If colleagues consider you a reliable work horse, chances are good that management will, too. I’ll soon advance in this company, you think. Well, think again…

What if one day you ask for a promotion and find that your loyalty and commitment to productivity has backfired? You suddenly realize that you’ve been labeled a “worker bee” — your ideas undervalued, your opportunities limited (and your role possibly disposable).

I can think of more than a few careers where details make or break business — banking, accounting, research, software design — but details can not stand on their own. To create successful strategies, businesses must consider the big picture. The same concept applies for building a successful career.

In this roller coaster economy, companies increasingly expect more from their employees and when selecting among job candidates. They want big picture thinkers. They value ideas that help the company ride the waves of economic uncertainty with greater confidence.

In the workplace, managers keen on getting results may not have the time or aptitude to see the full value you have to offer. Show them by presenting ideas that incorporate concepts or connected aspects of the business, which support the company vision.

Even if your role has little to do with strategy, you can impress or even move up in the company if you possess a mind for creative ideas. Let the right people in management know (those genuinely open-minded who keep their word), and give yourself the opportunity to be recognized. In the least, you’ll be seen as more valuable contributor for your initiative. Be known as a thinker as well as a doer.

When you discuss new ideas, be prepared for a variety of responses, both positive and negative, from colleagues. Big thinking doesn’t always win over management, especially those with a rigid operation. If you feel your creativity is being stifled by your work situation or your boss simply ignores your ideas, it may be time to consider a lateral move within the company (another department, another role), or even moving on to a different company.

Outside of work, looking at the overall picture can help you reach personal goals, too. Big or long-term goals become more achievable if you take the time to plan rather than jump into the details or try something and hope it works out.

Stepping back to evaluate what you need or want to achieve can also build your confidence for decision-making, bring greater happiness (as the result of better decisions), and reduce stress or anxiety. And, because you can envision more possibilities for yourself, thinking more broadly may also give you a better chance at success in general.