Missing the Forest For The Trees

A photo I snapped while walking through Radnor Lake State Park here in Nashville

I’ve been faced with this idea a lot lately and it’s got me thinking about how we manage and how we approach tasks. Missing the forest for the trees. How often do we marry ourselves to a certain task or way of doing things to the point that we fail to see the big picture?

In his 80th podcast episode, Jocko Willink breaks down “The Book of Five Rings” by Musashi and how the samurai way translates to today. One of the points was about detaching yourself from the situation. You can watch some of it here: https://youtu.be/uq0Skb529q8?t=41m48s and here:

Paraphrasing though, he talks about how important it is do detach yourself from the situation so that you can be better aware of the good and bad as well as see all the details.

He also talks about playing “Normal Face” with his kids. And the importance of maintaining calmness in tough situations — learning to control your emotions and maintain yourself so that you don’t get too wrapped up when things get crazy. See it here: https://youtu.be/uq0Skb529q8?t=48m57s

This weaves in to my own life right now. I’m seeing a tension at my office between employing short-term focused strategies that will help us reach revenue numbers each month and long-term strategies that won’t be as profitable now but will help us as a company to perform better in the next 1–5 years.

At the beginning I was a huge proponet of the long-term strategies; to the detriment of the short term strategies even. I want to think big picture and see the ways that we can benefit our customers over the long run more than I want to see us hit money goals right now. I want to build a brand and not just sell products. Which isn’t a bad idea by any means, but I think I was neglecting the need to employ strategies that would help us right now.

In my mind I looked down on the short-term strategies because there was no future in them. But the more I’ve been thinking about it, I was making the same mistake as the short-term strategies. I was missing the forest for the trees. The only difference was, my trees were ones that would take longer to establish.

I’ve tried to push myself now to look at both the long-term strategies and the short-term actions as equally neccesary; neither one can be neglected if we want to be successful.

I think balance is very important in a lot that we do, and learning to detach from the emotional connection to a situation to look at it objectively is important. How are you trying to retain “normal face” when things get tough? How are you striving to disconnect from your challenges to gain perspective? I’d love to hear your techniques and how you’ve been successful or how you’re struggling now.

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