Gaining A New Perspective
By Michael Angier
Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture? He or she works close
to the canvas, painting small sections at a time in the process of
bringing the whole creation into being.
But every once in awhile, the artist must step back from their work and
look at the whole picture. Only by stepping away from what we're working
on can we gain the proper perspective. The proper point of view is crucial
to the end result.
It's no different for any other creation. Whether it's a business, a
project or your life, you need to step back occasionally in order to get
From a distance, you can see things you can't see when you're up close
and personal. The difference is in working ON your project instead of
working IN it. It's all too easy to plug away at something but miss the
important distinctions needed to create an elegant result.
Stephen Covey calls it "sharpening the saw". It would be
foolish to keep sawing away without stopping from time to time to make
your tool more efficient. But unfortunately, that's what too many of us
Just as in music, we need spaces between the notes in order to create
the melody. A continuous collection of notes with no spaces is not harmony
… it's noise.
You may need to take a vacation--to get away from it all with no work
or study. At other times, it's best to take a course or attend a
conference to harvest some new ideas. Sometimes, it may be better to take
a complete break; to go away and just do something totally different …
take on a volunteer project, build a house for Habitat for Humanity or
some other worthy cause.
The important thing is to take the breaks. Without them, we lose our
creative spark. We don't enjoy our work or our life as much. Our stress
increases and both our work and our health suffer.
We need breaks in our days, in our weeks, our months and our years. Try
taking mini-breaks during the day … a 10-minute meditation, an exercise
class at lunch. Even a 60-second, stand-up-and-stretch break makes a
Just like we need to sleep to rest our body and our conscious mind, we
need interruptions in our routine. We need a change of pace in order to
keep pace with our best.
Be sure to schedule your time off and then take some spontaneous breaks
as well. Orient your life so it becomes easier and affordable to do it on
a regular basis.
People in the academic world are expected to take a sabbatical … a
year off every ten years. Why should business people or those in other
occupations be any different? Just because you've never done it before
doesn't mean you can't, or you shouldn't. Step back from your masterpiece
of choice and gain a new perspective. Get a new attitude. Reap some
breakthrough ideas. Put some spaces between your notes.
You, the people around you, and your work, deserve it.
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