Before Zoom became a popular video conferencing platform, zooming-in or zooming-out referred to focusing your camera lens. If you are like most people today, though, you don’t focus your camera anymore because your phone does it automatically.
Reflecting upon whether you tend to zoom-in or zoom-out is more than a metaphor: it is a useful framework to self-reflect on the lens you are using to view today’s global upheaval.
There are a couple of ways that we have been using this metaphor as we navigate the ups-and-downs (or ins-and-outs) of this unprecedented time.
If you zoom-in, the details of the moment are brought into sharp focus, especially when you or your loved ones are feeling fearful and under stress. Getting stuck in a close-up view, when all you can see is the upheaval of the COVID-19 virus, you can become obsessed with checking details, such as the latest numbers about the pandemic, or checking for breaking news on your news apps much too frequently.
Zooming-out may go in the opposite direction. If you zoom-out too far, you may ignore the facts and new behaviors that need your immediate attention. Zooming-out may include denying or minimizing the details or even “zoning-out” to the reality of your feelings and how others are feeling around you, hoping some great Rescuer will make your suffering go away.
Whether you are zooming-in or zooming-out, we recommend you ask yourself the 1st Vital Question: “What am I focusing on? Am I focusing on all the problems and my anxiety about them? Or, am I focusing on what I most care about right now and how I choose to respond?”
Shifting your focus from a problem-reactive, anxiety-based lens (a Victim Orientation) to an outcome-focus on what and who you care about will make a huge difference in your world, whether you are zooming-in or zooming-out.
If you zoom-in on what you care about and what brings you joy, the worrisome details can fade into the background for a few life-generating moments. Instead of being obsessed with the pandemic numbers, your sharp focus can magnify the beauty of a budding flower. Others are finding comfort by simply waving at a smiling neighbor or reaching out to friends, family, and other important relationships. From this lens, you are zooming-in on kindness and gratitude.
Zooming-out from the lens of what you care about, you may reflect upon what you are learning during this time—what new habits are you forming that you want to continue when things get “back to normal.” As you take a longer-term perspective through this zooming-out lens, you may have more conversations with co-workers and your loved ones about new ideas, innovations, and future dreams that this disruption is making possible.
During this global upheaval, paying attention to what is in front of you (the details) is essential. Without, however, an ability to zoom-out and cultivate a broader and longer perspective, you may be at risk of overwhelm and worry.
As a Creator you have a choice about how you adjust your lens and your focus. Whether your lens is close-up or “far-out”, learning to pause and ask yourself: “What am I focusing on?” can support you through these abnormal times.