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“The last thing one knows is what to put first” (Blaise Pascal).
PUTTING FIRST THINGS FIRST REQUIRES NOT ONLY DISCIPLINE; IT REQUIRES WISDOM. We can’t give priority to the things of first importance if we don’t know what they are, and it’s wisdom that provides this information. And where does wisdom come from? Usually, it comes from what we call “perspective” — the ability to see things from a wider angle and take in more of the reality that is confronting us. There may be times when our wisdom is blocked by a bold-faced lie or an outright untruth, but more often the problem is that we don’t see enough of the truth. We need to gain a more comprehensive view.
It may seem strange, but some of the situations that we see the least adequately are those that we’re closest to. It takes better vision than most of us are blessed with to see what’s immediately in front of us. We need to back up and look at our circumstances from a more objective distance. Doing this is often the single best thing we can do to improve the quality of our decision-making.
I once knew a man who had served in the Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He said that there was a certain road in the area that had always intrigued him. It looked as if it might go to some interesting place, but he never knew where it went until one day when he was in the nearby mountains, looking down on the area. From this higher and more complete vantage point, he could see that the road he’d always wondered about actually went to the city dump!
And that’s the way it often is with us in our assessment of what’s important from day to day. Some courses of action which look intriguing from our present viewpoint may be seen, from a wider angle, to go nowhere but to the “dump.” So Norman Cousins was right when he said, “What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the moon but that they set eye on the earth.” Our perspective won’t ever be infinite or perfect, and neither will our wisdom, but when we back up as far as we can and see as much as possible, it’s amazing what truths suddenly become apparent.
“Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there” (Robb Sagendorph).