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"The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys." - Dan Pink
The few who can see the entire chess board and call the shots are the most influential, make the most money, have the lowest risk and have the highest degree of control.
If you were a chess piece, would you be a pawn, bishop, rook, queen, or king?
If I had to choose a chess piece to become, I would want to be the grandmaster. The grandmaster can see up to 25 moves ahead. He can see the entire chess board from every angle and has total control of as many aspects of the game as possible.
If a pawn is a "small thinker", the "grandmaster" is a "big thinker".
The problem that many people have is that we are so busy focusing on one position on the chess board that we fail to see the the bigger picture.
In reality, our position is relative to every other position on the board and we need to see 8-25 moves ahead.
In reality, most people are fixated on our current position and can only see 1-2 moves ahead.
The difference between the Grandmaster and the Pawn is that the Grandmaster is a conceptual thinker who can see the big picture. The pawn is a tactical thinker who can only see the small picture.
JT Foxx breaks down a conceptual thinker into 4 major disciplines.
To become a conceptual, big picture thinker, we must master the four following areas:
- Strategic Thinking - The biggest difference between a Big Picture thinker and a Small Picture thinker is Strategy vs. Tactics. Strategy focuses on the long term effects and "why" behind the actions. Tactics focuses on execution of actions. A tactical thinker is more interested in the "how" and the "what" of a strategy. Focus on the "Why", let your team execute the "how" and "what".
- Time Management - Time and energy are the only two limiting factors in this physical world. Every single person has the same 24 hours to spend in the day and the difference between a Big Thinker and a Small Thinker is that the Big Thinker is able to effectively budget and manage their time. They are able to delegate and achieve tasks on schedule and are disciplined with distractions. Time management is the one skill that everyone needs to study, but it is a topic that no one wants to study. The study of time management is completely unglamorous, but it is essential to become a Big Picture thinker.
- Focus - Big picture thinkers are able to focus on the mission and the vision. Their focus is so strong that they block out any distractions and are able to stay on course. A ship sailing at sea will only reach it's destination if it is precisely navigated. If the navigator is off by even 1 degree, the ship will have a chance of missing it's destination by hundreds of miles and has a risk of smashing up on the rocks. The bigger the ship, the more precise the navigation needs to be. Focus is the key element that is required for far reaching strategies that stretch 25 moves into the future.
- Branding - How are you able to distinguish yourself as a Grand Master. Many people try to be the Grandmaster, but are branded like Pawns. If you are going to be a conceptual Big Picture thinker and control the chess board, you must brand yourself as the Grand Master. What this means in practical terms is that you must brand yourself as the expert, the leader and the boss. You must be the head of your organization and brand yourself so that you attract the best customers and the best talent to run your organization. A properly branded company will always outsell it's no-name competition and the same goes for people. Make it a top priority to create laser focused branding that sends the perfect message to each person you are communicating to.
Some people would argue that the information age is over and that the "conceptual age" has begun. In the conceptual age, the future does not belong to the people who master information, but rather, people who master "conceptual thinking".
In the conceptual age, creative right-brained people win over analytical and technical left-brained people because virtually every technical task can be outsourced to a machine or to cheap off shore labor.
To gain a competitive advantage in this new age you must become a Big Picture thinker: It's time to start thinking like a Grandmaster and stop thinking like a Pawn.
Thanks for reading,
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