One of the building blocks of personal happiness and flow is the ability to see the bigger picture.
The story of the three stone cutters illustrates this powerfully.
One day a traveler, walking along a lane, came across 3 stone cutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stone cutter what he was doing.”I am making a living”. The second kept on hammering while he said: “I am doing the best job of stone cutting in the entire country.”The third stone cutter, when asked the same question said:“I am building a cathedral.”
Seeing the bigger picture requires us to understand and consider the wider context of our actions and decisions. We need to recognize how our actions and decisions fit into the wider picture. What are the consequences of our choices and what effect does it have on our environment and society.
“Cathedrals are incredible testaments to human endeavor. It is not only their grandeur or splendor, but the thought that they often took more than fifty years to build. Those who designed them, those who first worked on them, knew for certain that they would never see them finished. They knew only that they were creating something glorious which would stand for centuries, long after their own names had been forgotten…..” – Charles Handy
We may not need any more cathedrals but we do need cathedral thinkers, people who can think beyond their own lifetimes. We need people who see the bigger picture.
Most of us think in terms of linear case and effect. If I do A it will result in B. But are we aware of the side-effects of our actions?
Yes there always are side effects. Think of a pebble that is dropped into a pond. The linear cause and effect is a pebble sinking into the water. The side effect is the water rippling to the banks of the pond.
The question is: Do you and I see the ripple effect? Not always. Some of us are like Lily Allen’s song – Fear “I want loads of diamonds/ I hear people die while they’re trying to find them/ … it doesn’t matter cause I’m pacing plastic”
I would like to invite you to see and not just look. Join me in the exploration of seeing ripple effects. Try and see patterns – Ask yourself if things are repeating themselves in your life? Play the “what if” game from a fresh perspective – what will happen if I do this? Will it add value to me and my environment?
Stop thinking you are of no consequence. Even believing this lie has a ripple effect. You not being yourself are denying the world your unique gift of strength.
Experiment! Do something. See what happens. Also remember to take responsibility for the outcome. It is part of the whole system. Taking responsibility ignites our passion. By doing it we build cathedrals! When we shy away from our responsibility we simply cut stones.
Again I invite you – start seeing the bigger picture in which you live and take responsibility for your part in it. Start building your cathedral.