Seeing the forest… and the trees!

Seeing the forest… and the trees!

Recently, I was at Muir Woods National Monument, just north of San Francisco. Truly, one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring scenic wonders along the west coast.

The towering, ancient redwoods, some of them more than 2,000 years old, can’t help but prompt a little soul-searching, and sitting quietly in their midst almost always brings clarity to whatever may be weighing down your mind.

That day, it was dealing with a massive project—it seems that the biggest new assignments often seem to come when we’re already feeling the most overwhelmed.

Like the redwoods, the tasks at hand can seem daunting, even insurmountable. But as every mountain hike starts with a single step, so does every new project.

What I realized, though, as I trudged up the side of a particularly steep hill, was that my gaze was focused downward, squarely on my feet. The uneven surface required close attention, in order not to stumble over roots and stray rocks along the path.  Watching one’s step is, of course, essential to a successful (and tumble-free) journey.

But I also realized that by focusing on my every step, I was missing out on a constantly changing tableau of incredible visuals around me… and that this climb up the hill really wasn’t going to be nearly as special as it could be if I never raised my head to take it all in.

After all, why was I even there? If all I wanted to do was walk, I could go find a vacant treadmill at the gym.

So I consciously began alternating my gaze—a glance at my feet, then a look up at those majestic redwoods. And it put a slightly different spin on that old saw about not seeing the forest for the trees—we actually need to do both in order to maximize our efforts!

It’s all too easy to become immersed in the minutia of the day-to-day drudgery connected with every large-scale project or initiative. Unless we build in opportunities to regularly focus on the big picture—the whole forest—our efforts simply become a wearying drain on our personal energies—we lose sight of why we’re working so hard.

So in every pursuit we undertake, it’s critical to maintain a balance between the forest AND the trees.  Our steps AND our journey.  And to always keep our ultimate goal—the top of that mountain—in our sights.

The scenery changes with every step… don’t miss it!

Grow Big or Go Home!