The writer
The writer

NASA’s janitor, Midland’s policeman and life’s bigger picture

In the early 1960s, U.S.A’s President J. F. Kennedy was on a tour at NASA’s headquarters for the first time ever. He chanced on a janitor, excitedly introduced himself and asked him what he was doing there.

“I am helping put a man on the moon!” the janitor wittily retorted.

The story is also told of Christopher Wren, one of the greatest English architects, walking unnoticed among the men who were building one of his pieces; London’s St. Paul Cathedral.

He asked one man what he was doing. The worker replied that he was only cutting a piece of stone.

He asked another man same who said he was only earning five shillings two pence a day. He went further on and enquired of a third worker what he was doing, too. He smartly replied, “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build a beautiful cathedral!”

These two different stories illustrate two people who distinguished themselves by discerning the bigger picture of their roles. Regardless of the fact that their essence may have been negligible, they knew that without their bit, the ultimate goal would never have been reached.

There’s always a bigger picture to everything we do in life; no matter how little it may seem. Every role we play wherever, no matter how little, helps in making a bigger role a reality. If each of us could understand the bigger picture of what we did, trust me, we would have optimized our roles greatly.

A guitarist in church is not only playing a small instrument. He is making the vision of spreading the gospel a reality. An employee is not only working in a small office for a monthly wage. They are helping their company solve their clients’ problems. The bigger picture!

How we perceive our roles will determine how we carry such roles out. If all we can see is the small picture, we would carry them out lackadaisically. We ought to know that how we do what we do has a rippling effect on our families, companies and even nation!  

A worker helping Sir Christopher Wren mould an architectural beast will better execute his role more than another who is only there to earn five shillings two pence. A janitor who knows he’s helping put a man on the moon will have a different work attitude from another who’s only helping make some parts of a spaceship clean.  
All through this week, Midland Savings and Loans has been on the lips of many Ghanaians. A policeman stationed at one of their branches brutally assaulted a customer in the full glare of their staff.

The unimaginable rippling effects this brutality has had on their 21-year-old brand point to the fact that one’s actions and inactions will always go a long way to affect everybody ― and that is life’s bigger picture!

It points to the fact that in business, customer care should be everybody’s care. Even if your role is to clean your company, the bigger picture is that at the end of the day, the customer’s satisfaction and safety should be obvious in how you clean.
Regardless of your role, if the ultimate goal of your firm is to keep customers’ money and lives safe, your role should somewhat contribute to this goal.  
We need to redefine why we do what we do. If you are a policeman in a bank, the bigger picture of your role is to help the bank keep their customers and their monies safe.
If you teach in a school, the bigger picture of your role is to help the nation produce quality intellectuals. Always discern the bigger picture. Until we see the bigger picture of life, we can’t even find any meaning in what we do.

Why we do what we do greatly influences how we do what we do. One civil servant going to work to put Ghana on the global map and another going to work just to surf the internet will have different work ethics.

What we do wherever eventually has an effect where we find ourselves. Our little greed will have a rippling effect on the nation. That is the bigger picture.
 Our so-called little bribery and corruption will go a long way to affect our nation; we inclusive.

If some politicians knew that their corrupt deeds eventually had a ‘bigger picture’ effect on the nation, including them, they would have lived more selflessly. They will eventually have a taste of the bad roads they built.

They will someday be attended to by doctors who may be products of the same educational system they messed up for political gains. Everyone will have a taste of the poison they cooked.

When we do good, we do for ourselves because this same good will come back to us. That is the bigger picture of life. Every action of ours has a rippling effect.

The evil we hurl at others will come back to us. That is still the bigger picture of life. Others call it gravity. It puts us at the receiving end of what we give!
Life’s bigger picture cautions us on what we do. It makes us thoughtful of our actions and inactions. It cautions us of the bigger effects of the little things we do.
 If it’s good, it has a bigger effect. If it’s bad, same.

Today, a 21-year-old image built with sweat and pain has been badly dented overnight. A woman has been bruised. Many employees are going to bear the brunt.

Breadwinners are going to lose their source of livelihood as more customers withdraw their savings out of anger.

And… it’s all courtesy one policeman who thought only little about the bigger picture of his role there.

Before you do whatever, think about the bigger picture — your family; your company; your nation. It’s always not about only you. Our selfishness has a rippling effect on our world.

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, an Accra-based writing company (

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