‘By and Large’ Attitude in Life

Hopping on a bus, rainy day, holding umbrella

What does it mean?

Here’s the standard definition I found across a few dictionaries:

Definition of ‘by and large’: on the whole: speaking in general

What does, the ‘by and large’ concept mean in practical terms?

·       How many kilometers are between Montreal and New York City?  The answer: about 620 – give and take a few. It takes about 7 hours drive to get there. That estimation is close enough for me — no need to jump on google maps and divert your full attention.

·       What’s 397 x 210? About 80.000 – I’m simply going to round it up to 400×200. My brain works faster that way. If you want an exact answer, I’ll divert my full attention from our conversation and punch the numbers in my phone calculator.

My advice is only to divert your full attention when necessary.

The main message of this post is to notice our tendencies which can oscillate toward over-obsessing about details and wasting too much unnecessary time or precious energy. Very useful to know, so we can skillfully divert our approach when appropriate and necessary.

I got the inspiration to ponder and write about this phrase when I opened my Linkedin page this morning – Ray Dalio’s post on the 6th Sept 2022 (Understand the concept of by and large activity)

It caught my attention because of unhealthy tendencies I have noticed throughout my career working with people, and here’s my take…

When we over obsess about facts and details, we lose the original perspective – the big picture.

I asked myself, what is the foundation of such an attitude?

It depends from one person to another and varies across different areas we engage in – it can be rooted in wanting to be correct, asserting control, high-jacking attention, lack of confidence, fear of the unknown, perhaps there’s a degree of self-sabotage or punishment.

When you get stuck in details, you freeze and are no longer moving forward; you are no longer part of ‘the flow.’  You have got carried away with your obsession.

This narrow point of view is widespread in our society – it’s been ingrained and became part of our mindset during schooling. One point on your exam defines whether you have passed or failed the exam. Or worse – it determines if you were fit enough to have been accepted to the university or not. What kind of point-based system ludicrousness is that?

It signifies that we have lost the meaning of what matters in life. In this particular case, we condensed the meaning of life to a single pointed approach that can define someone’s trajectory in life. What a punitive, middle-age approach! (IMO)

Losing sight of the large picture approach is detrimental to personal, financial, spiritual, and mental health. This can include the economic health of an entire country.

When we get stuck micromanaging and marinating in details, this includes obsessing about our shortcomings, we lose sight of too many things that matter in life. That’s why I think – ‘by and large’ attitude – is something we should practice and apply more often – when it is safe to do so. (PS: please don’t apply this in a surgery)

Here are a couple of relatable examples.

Your kind friend prepared a meal for you. He/she added too much salt or slightly burned the pie. The veggies were not crunchy enough. Considering the circumstances, they not being a Michelin five-star chef, ‘by and large’ it’s pretty awesome and generous of someone cooking for you. Plus, you get to enjoy a wholesome meal with your mate.

Applying for a job – reviewing job specs, you notice a few expectations you don’t meet – ‘by and large,’ it’s ok. You can negotiate the rest when you get a chance. Don’t just brush yourself away from the get go. Buy some time to learn the missing points and other necessary skills.   

Having to quickly churn a report – considering the time you got on your hands – the rough estimates you were able to come up with are ‘by and large’ ok. If your boss expects a better job – negotiate for more time or some help.

Non-negotiable deadlines – if your boss is not willing to allocate more resources, you will have to compromise on the quality or quantity of the work. Make sure that’s clear from the start. What you can do in the given time with the technology and your two hands is ‘by and large’ ok.

You’re experiencing short-term losses in your long-term investment portfolio – considering the market downturn and your focus on long-term investments – ‘by and large’ that’s looking solid if you ask me. (PS: not financial advice)

Company employees… Mark is working hard, going beyond expectations because he’s driven – he wants to; Alex is doing just enough because that’s his capacity, and he’s meeting all the expectations. It all works out well, as long as everyone is happy.

Countries are waging trade wars, getting stuck in details, not budging, derailing the whole economy, stoking up another conflict – because they lose sight of the bigger, long-term picture, messing up the entire supply chain. Are these detrimental, widespread, long-term negative impacts? You tell me! What difference would it make to apply the ‘by and large’ approach in such a case?

I set up a few goals last year; my threshold was high to start with – I didn’t reach all of them, but I did great at what I achieved. I realized a few goals made no sense along the way, so I changed my track and kept on reminding myself of the 80-20 rule. ‘By and large’ I never lost sight of what matters, and I did not get stuck or lost in details, thank you very much.

Not that I’m not able to go into details where it really matters or when that’s necessary, but that’s a story for another day. 

I wish you a good day! 

Seeking Attention and the Art of Deception

The mask, face split in two.

Many of us were ‘encouraged’ to discover and engage in the act of most innocent deception of attracting much needed attention before we even became aware of what we were doing.

When you are a baby, you need attention, you need love, and recognition – you have the urge to know that you exist, that you’re real – which is all good, it’s part of an essential and healthy ego development. If the attention is not automatically given by our parents when we need it, for as long as we need it, we have no choice but to discover how to attract attention. That’s how we begin learning to manipulate energies and people around us. The story begins with a very special and simple kind of sound called ‘crying’.  

For example, if you did not receive the attention needed from your mother when you were an infant, you had to figure out how to get her attention and eventually you discovered that making noise, i.e., crying, ruffles the feathers and achieves the intention.

Surely, that can be very confusing for parents – there is crying and there is crying. One is real (pain, discomfort, hunger), the other is also real, but intentional – there’s a subtle nuance that reveals the truth and only mothers who are very much connected and in tune with their babes will know exactly which cry is which. But not all mothers have the privilege or that kind of awareness. (Please note, there is no judgement, blame, or shame intended. Thigs are the way they are and everything is a subject of change.

This is how manipulation became part of our identity, how it initially helped us attract attention and develop our personality. If you’re interested in this topic, tune into the interview about the importance of vegal theory and the co-regulation when mothering a child, which helps the child to learn about very important act of self-regulation. Knowing how to self-regulate gives a shared feeling of support and helps the child to develop the required neuroplasticity, i.e., the boldness, the strength required to courageously venture out to the world. (‘Trauma and the Nervous System’: Gabor Mate and Stephen Porges – see link below; Time stamp 33:30 – 36:05).

Nearly every mammalian child has 100% access to their mother for as long as they need her – apart from humans. Not that long ago – in hunter gathering societies – infants used to be attached to their mother for as long as they required their presence. Any other way seemed unnatural. Yet, when you look at our modern society, it is clear that infants and babies lack full access to their mother or father (mothering instinct occurs in both genders). Hence, most babies or children are literally ‘encouraged’ to find all sorts of ways of getting the much-needed attention.

Do they get it or not is a different story. Was it successful and fulfilling, or not? If unsuccessful, what kind of traumatic experiences did that leave in their psyche? What are the consequences?

It depends from one person to another, but the good news is, co-regulation happens in every stage of our life, hence we subconsciously seek intimate connection to other mammalians that help us self-regulate (well, that’s one of many reasons).  Co-regulation happens when we are intimately connected to another mammalian – be it our partner, friend, or a pet.    

Looking at the state of our society, the level of disconnect between people – many of us can not give up the need for attention, because it was never fully satisfied and we’re still trying to compensate for something that was never fulfilled. Hence, we crave and seek attention; we come up with all sorts of ways to attract other mammals – just like flowers attract insects to pollinate them and ensure their succession.

Think about the phenomena of social media – it seems to me, it was a natural consequence to develop a system that enables any kind of human interaction – however, I think it gives a false impression of receiving attention we deeply need. The number of likes and followers may boost our ego, but I’m not sure it satisfies what we truly seek. It’s important to be aware of it – else you can get lost – the path can easily lead you towards developing a new addiction.

We are human beings, we are fragile, yet incredibly resilient. We need attention, we need love, we need to be recognized for who we are. We also have a need to give attention, love, recognition to others. As long as you don’t build some fake identity of yourself, as long as you remain authentic, content with who you really are, you will be fine. Even if you end up having a million followers on your social media account or just a few. It’s all the same. Because you know yourself, and nothing, and no-one can ever change that.

Stay alert though. Be careful you don’t start bluffing, pretending to be something or someone you’re not, just because you think you will gain more traction and attention – you can slowly and surely get lost and drift away. That’s another well-known trap and the deeper you get into it, the harder it is to get out, which can turn into yet another level of misery. Here, I’m happy to share my mantra with you; you can trust me, it works: ‘Know yourself, be yourself, love yourself.’

Before I end, I invite you to try something out. Next time you receive attention, accept it with gratitude, don’t take it for granted – respond gracefully – pay it forward wholeheartedly! When someone talks to you, listen to them attentively, being fully present. This includes humans and mammals. Only with the attitude and intention that comes from your heart, can the much-needed healing of this deeply rooted, multigenerational issue, that humanity is currently facing, begin. Every intention counts.

I wish you all a beautiful and blessed day!