I used to teach a leadership program with a strategy guy. Marc Rubin.

Take the helicopter view. One of Marc’s favorite phrases.

I have used other terms that connote the same mindset – being the observer, double-tracking our experience - but I like the notion of helicoptering best.

I had an unexpected 2023. Great clients, yes. Some glorious trips, yes. And a double heart-valve-replacement surgery that I had not seen coming when the year began.

In a year full of unexpected twists and turns, it is tempting to clamp up inside. Go numb. Or go micro and obsess about the minutiae of the moment.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change, beloved author and transformational thinker Wayne Dyer said. Yes. Helicoptering is the act of changing how we look at things. It takes us out of the muck. Helps us soar to new heights and lifts us into a more expansive view. At its best, it liberates us from the shackles of immediate circumstances.

We cannot helicopter if we don’t REMEMBER to helicopter. That’s the tricky part. Remember to go on that helicopter ride.

Micro, macro. Zooming in, zooming out. Observing. Helicoptering. Call it what you will – this is an essential life skill and a prime leadership trait that helps us get out of the muck and shift perspective. Here are a few considerations that help us do this well.

Prompt yourself

Don’t let your helicoptering be a lucky accident. Pilot that helicopter. I like to give myself clear mental cues. Intentional inner commands that I call upon when I wish to redirect my attention. The best mental cues are a mere word. I invoke this word at will. Say it to myself, quietly: Helicopter is such a cue word. Evocative. Bold. Clear. It tells me to lift out of the immediate moment. A linguistic prompt begets action. Immediately.

Sense the urgency

Here’s how I propose you use this prompt: When you find yourself bogged down in a conversation that does not seem to go anywhere. When the creative juices simply are not flowing. When the energy feels stuck. Cue yourself. Helicopter.

Step outside of the moment. Hover above it. Circle the scene of the crime. For a moment only, for minutes maybe, until clarity comes. This is the beauty of helicopter-hovering. Clarity WILL come. Energy WILL start to flow again. Every time.

Travel the time/space continuum

The beauty of helicoptering? We observe the space/time reality of a specific moment and leave it all at once. We demand that our perspective change. We have the option of transcending the time dimension. Think of “past moments.” Travel to “future moments.” Suddenly the dynamics of the present moment seem like a mere blip in the time continuum. Less precious. Not such a big deal. Perspective shift. Major.

The space shift? As I hover above a moment, I am able to be conscious of all the other moments happening at the very same time in other buildings, other spaces, other cities, other worlds. Because my view broadens, the pressures of the present moment diminish. Again, not such a big deal. I am able to exhale. Whew. Perspective shift.

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

Dr. Wayne Dyer

The gifts of my unexpected year? After 3 months of cardiac rehab, I am stronger than ever. I am back to lap-swimming a mile at a time, a distance I had not swum for 15 years. But most importantly, I learned invaluable lessons about life, about care, about support, about love.

It was an extraordinary year. I helicoptered a lot.

Remember to cue yourself. Helicopter. Perspective shift, and the relief it offers.

Yes. The helicopter view can do all that.