I've had a couple of examples in the past week about the need to think big, and trying hard to keep our heads and brains above the busy detail work. Universities these days are busy and often stressed places, and staying above the detail is hard work. But ... if we don't, we risk business as usual futures, and perhaps worse, our only response to those futures will be to complain about them. I was in a meeting this last week where some strong ideas about the future were presented, but while no one there had any real objective to the ideas themselves, a lot of energy went into finding reasons they couldn't be implemented. There was no thinking big response like: "wow, great ideas, how to we make them happen?" Instead, all most could think about were detail responses, all focused on experiences of the detail in the here and now, rather than the possiblities of the potential future.

In the other case, it was about trying to get someone to see the big picture, rather than just focusing on a single paper that had to be written. The response was to write the paper as quickly as possible, to be able to tick it off their 'to do' list, with predictably mediocre results. Not thinking beyond the immediate task meant that a lot of effort was wasted, and the task is still not done.

Thinking big is about trusting yourself and about taking risks, and not many people are actually comfortable with those concepts. It is actually easier to 'stay in the box' and just do what you need to do, rather than putting your ideas out there for all to see. But, I see more stress today generated by staying within the box and trying to keep up with the detail than I do from letting go and thinking big.