The Big Picture
Visionary people are a rare breed. We all know a few people he can not only see the forest through the trees, but can see other trees that are not even in that forest. Sometimes this vision is so good, these visionaries can see bears performing acts in those distant woods, others would dismiss as distasteful bathroom humour.
We tend to admire those who have intelligent well-constructed forecasts about the future state. These are the people we call true visionaries. We also admire pre-visionaries, those much more ordinary folks who share profound predictions about our past state. We call these annoying ones historians or trivia experts.
I have had the luxury of working with a few of these big picture thinkers who have a brilliant grasp of what is to come. Their insights and willingness to share into how the past can shape the future, helped many around them with a better, broader perspective of our unpredictable world.
One of these leaders named Brad, shared some very interesting history one night over a beer or four. He talked about a difficult childhood where he was born looking a little cross-eyed. I suppose early on he suffered from double visionary issues. He spoke of being made fun by others during his early childhood, until corrective surgery rectified his odd appearance. When you research many great visionaries, you will discover many of them learned to overcome personal issues as a child. That strength of overcoming obstacles early on served them well in their prolific adult years.
If you are still struggling to identify visionaries of our time, Steve Jobs from Apple, might be a good example to consider. This revolutionary technological icon, was ahead of his peers as he understood the big picture of the emerging computer world. Because of his forsight, Apple became one of the most successful companies of our time, as his keen predictions of what the future world would need, became the new reality in the competitive world of technology.
There is an ironic twist when iconic Steve Jobs’ impact is assessed. As time passes his big picture thinking might be remembered for the proliferation of small pictures that his iPhone imposed upon us. The accepted overuse of Selfies, meals and cute pet photos, may end up being the small tragic legacy of his vision. Only the slow passing of time will separate the black and white thinkers from the multi colour ones.
Speaking of black and white, (This is a weak segue, but I promise stronger ones are only paragraphs ahead) old black and white movies can help us understand this big picture conundrum. Often the best examples to prove a point are the stories where humans fail to see opportunities to be part of something big.
Very old American movies filmed in black and white, are filled with comedy teams that helped make audience members smile before the invention of colour. Laurel and Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Abbot and Costello, The Bowery Boys, The Three Stooges, and Martin and Lewis, are a few examples of comedic teams that will live on forever because their attempt to make others laugh. The evidence was captured on non digital, grainy reels of film.
Now the sophisticated movie fans with PHDs in media studies, will challenge the inclusion of The Bowery Boys on this list. You could question that the Bowery Boys chief members, Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall, might not quite rank with those other comedy teams, in terms of status and quality… I will leave the debate about Shemp vs. Curly for another time. Humour is a very subjective thing.
Interesting Fact # 1: Your grandparents would say “Let’s go see a picture” when they were going to the movies and Gone with the Wind was a very Big Picture in it’s time. I add this to confuse the idea of Big Picture thinking, as you immediately conclude this is not a a very interesting fact at all.
My defense of The Bowery Boys on this list, is this B movie team appeared in over 60 movies. Quantity can over rank quality when making lists (eg. The Rolling Stones). Baby boomers will remember viewing many of their bad, low budget films during the weekend mornings when your parents made you watch TV, while they were in the kitchen cutting coupons, making a list for the Saturday trip to the grocery store.
In perhaps the most brilliant segue I will ever make, before Apple computers existed there was Apple Records (please review paragraph 5 to truly appreciate what I have just done) as the Beatles tried to gain greater control of their music. It was founded in 1968, right after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Clubs Band.
And speaking of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, (please review the previous paragraph to appreciate this much more subtle segue) if you look closely at the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, you will notice images of many recognizable faces. Karl Marx, Marlon Brando and Edgar Allen Poe, were just a few of the images surrounding the Fab Four on that cover. I will include this link for the obsessive compulsive ones, who must gain a sense of completion before moving on.
Laurel and Hardy are there too, as I suppose even The Beatles parents used older movies on older TVs, to distract the British children, as they also made grocery lists in their British kitchens. Here is the Big Picture point, that we must agree, has taken far too long to make. If you allow your eyes to wander up to the top right corner of that album cover, you will see the image of Huntz Hall. What you will not see is an image of Leo Gorcey.
Interesting Fact # 2: Grocery and Gorcey almost rhyme.
It seems Mr. Gorcey was more than happy to have his image displayed on the album cover, if and only if The Beatles paid him $400.00 for the privilege of using his picture. (Some articles suggest it was as high as $5,000, but most confirm the $400.00 fee) I suspect after a very brief discussion, the boys from Liverppol simply pulled his picture off the final version of the album cover, which for the rest of time shows a singular Bowery Boy.
Let the record show (by record I don’t mean Sgt. Pepper’s here) that one of the Bowery Boys, didn’t see the big picture opportunity, as he will forever be known as the boy who was too costly to appear on, what many non Rolling Stones fans consider, the best record (okay now I mean Sgt. Peppers) ever made.
What is the Big Picture lesson here? I propose there are three lessons to take away from today’s over segued rambling.
Lesson One. If you get a phone call from one of the most famous bands in the world and they ask to use your image for their upcoming album, a very good answer to that request is “yes”.
Lesson Two: Iconic and Ironic are words that spell check will keep challenging you when you try to force them into the same sentence in your painful attempt to be clever. This is small picture thinking at it’s finest.
Lesson Three: If your vision only appears in black and white, adjust your lens and allow other colours to penetrate your potential idea to expand your thinking. If you still struggle with attempts to expand, I understand limited use of LSD could help you here, just ask Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Cue the Blong; Big Picture thinking will sometimes vex your loyal fans..