Context by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

Chocolate Hills. The name alone sounds inviting, like a type of exotic candy or a flavored coffee. In reality, the Chocolate Hills are a unique geographic feature found on the island of Bohol. They are real. They are NOT made of chocolate – sorry. They do not contain coffee. If you have 5 minutes, google them and look at the images you see. Surreal. Beautiful. Mysterious.

Recently, while on a trip to Bohol, my family visited the Chocolate Hills on Bohol. There are hundreds of these round “hills.” Do they look like they belong to a fantasy book, like the Hobbit. Could they be near the Shire? … When I was looking down on them, I felt like I was someplace else. An unexplored territory. Seeing them via helicopter would have been interesting as well.

Why? Context. Perspective. … You see as we along the road, the hills were more difficult to see. Yes, we could tell they were round hills, but it was like looking at them through a dirty glass. Sometimes you could see them clearly. Other times, not.
As we neared our destination, a little tourist outpost/overlook, I got excited. We could begin to see more clearly. The hills started taking shape. Depth. Color. Alignment. Perspective. Context. … We could see rice paddies and the smoke from cooking fires interspersed among the hills. We could see hills in the distance as nearby. We could sense how tall they were, how big, how they varied in overall size. Context.

Do you ever find yourself listing to a presentation where the presenter just jumped into the details without providing any context? … Have you ever gotten lost in a conversation because no context was provided? … Have you ever made a poor decision because you didn’t have the proper context?

If so, don’t feel bad. It happens daily around the globe. People get excited. People get ahead of themselves because they’re in a hurry. They forget to stop, take a breath, see the environment, and provide context –for themselves and those around them.

Remember the importance of having the proper context, perspective, when making decisions, communicating, and setting strategic direction. While details necessary when analyzing, taking action, and solving problems, the successful leader starts with “the big picture.”

Yes, details are critically important – once the appropriate strategy has been developed, once you know where you’re going, once you know where you are. Without context you may find yourself lost, confusing others, and solving the wrong problems.

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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