On an abstract level, our brains are able to understand big patterns. But we’re not emotionally wired for them. They tend not to ‘mean’ terribly much to us. That’s why, for instance, financial services companies have a hard time selling retirement plans. 

We know, intellectually, that the day will arrive when we retire. But we don’t ‘feel’ that abstract marker on any tangible level. It’s a someday, a one day, a not really real. Sum effect: We only truly perceive big, abstract systems when we intentionally go looking for them, or when they are specifically pointed out to us. Otherwise, we only perceive the more immediate and minor things that are happening directly around us. 

This week, let’s try to counter that, in search of advantage. 

I often invite you to consider the industry in which you work. This week, try this exercise: Draw your industry in the centre of a blank page. Then, in spider-diagram form, draw bubbles around it, indicating the other industries that interact with, or impact upon, your industry. If you struggle to imagine which industries interact with yours, ask a knowledgeable colleague or friend. 

What could you learn about these industries, in order to see a bigger picture? What do the upheavals and changes in these industries entail for yours? What advantages might you return with, after an excursion into acquiring broader knowledge, which may only entail reading a newspaper or two, and how might you improve your agility if you could see what other industries need from yours? 

Situational awareness gives you greater nuance. It also throws up opportunities you might not otherwise have perceived. But the information doesn’t come naturally. You must seek it on purpose. Find out, even when no one is pressuring you to do so. 

Take the trouble, and you could become the greatest in your game.  


Douglas Kruger is a professional keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He specialises in disruptive innovation and expert-positioning, helping brands to become more memorable than their competitors’. See him in action, or sign up for his motivational newsletter, at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Book him to present for your leadership team: email info@douglaskrugerspeaker.com