Overview Effect: Your Career vs. Earth

overview effect

Ever hear of the overview effect? It’s the effect that many astronauts experience having seen the Earth from a distance. Some space travelers spend a bulk of their time looking at the Earth because it’s unlikely that the same opportunity will arise. It’s this unique vantage point that drives home the idea that the Earth is fragile yet strong enough as to not get sucked into a black hole (yet?). The Earth is vulnerable because it is suspended in a black void. The Earth is actually a dot in a vast universe. It’s this perspective that shifts the way many astronauts see themselves, their home country, and all of human history.

To say that seeing the entire Earth from outside of its orbit doesn’t change an astronaut’s relationship to the Earth would be silly. Especially, when most of us in our daily lives do not actively consider our place in this universe.

For those astronauts who do make it back home, they tend to return ready to care more about the Earth. They tend to see the Earth as one place not simply a place filled with travel destinations they’d like to visit one day. There’s this appreciation for the Earth in its entirety that happens. Somehow the Earth feels more important when you have had a chance to witness it in its whole form.

Now, let’s explore how your career is like the Earth also deserving to be admired in its wholeness and from a different perspective.

People are often stuck in one career identity. Some are defined by a handful of life choices. Many are held captive by the expectations of others. These pulls are powerful and invisible so it’s hard to pull yourself out of these things.

This pull is typically not done alone. A typical corporate employee’s life has too much inertia to enable the thrust necessary to step beyond the daily grind of job/life thinking. It’s a process that requires a space rocket by way of taking a leap of faith. You can say there also usually someone or a team in Houston looking after the whole journey (a guide perhaps). The astronaut is you. And the Earth here represents the totality of your talents and greater life purpose.

All of this to say. Going through the motions of life results in us missing the bigger picture of what is truly possible in our careers, for our generation, and as it relates to all of humanity.

Answer these questions for yourself:

  • When was the last time you reflected upon your career in its entirety beyond your resume and to include the impact you’ve made on people?
  • When was the last time you recognized your patterns and role in picking employees who had red flags that you ignored or downplayed?
  • When was the last time you dropped the act that you love [insert any skill you are great at but secretly do not enjoy doing at all] and decided that after a 20-year career you won’t do that skill anymore?
  • When was the last time you experienced your own personal “overview effect?” Aren’t you curious to see your potential from a different more holistic perspective? Isn’t it time to reimagine your career and life especially when you are in a job transition?

Here’s what I know. Once you take time to honestly reflect on your career and what you want out of your life then your personal relationship with your dreams wants, and needs will shift. Sound familiar with how an astronaut’s relationship to the Earth changes after seeing it from a distance? It’s similar. When you pause and reflect beyond the corporate regalia you too will see how vulnerable you are yet powerful. You’ll see how you may have been held back by other people’s expectations or comments. You’ll appreciate how you contributed to results that you once took for granted or may have forgotten. You will see the patterns in your personal life that are being played out in your professional life and be able to do something differently.

You deserve the overview effect. You like the Earth are worthy of being admired. If this resonates with you then let’s talk during a complimentary breakthrough session. Currently, I am working with astronauts who work in marketing or aspire to land a marketing role working for a company where their best ideas can take shape and make an impact. No space suits required.

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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