Why do we focus on the inconsequential instead of on the bigger picture? Understanding that the details paint the picture, we should still have an idea of what the picture looks like. Some would-be leaders can’t see the bigger picture because they are too busy managing the “now” instead of visualizing the “how”.
If you have ever been camping, been in the mountains, or viewed a landscape from on high, you see the beauty of the trees around you. However, have you ever taken the time to look past the horizon and wonder what was on the other side? We may see a vibrant color or a white mist in the distance. The question still remains, what lies beyond the trees?
Leadership involves taking others to the point beyond where they would normally go on their own. Others fail to reach greater levels due to distractions, hindrances, or self-imposed obstacles and never get a glimpse. The mindset of a great leader is to determine what does the future looks like and how do we get there together? What is the vision for themselves and the team? What lies beyond the trees?
Much like a hiker or scout, the search for the pathway through can often be hindered by obstacles that are immovable. Leaders deal with the same problem. It takes leaders with clear vision to see that there is something greater in the distance and to use creative planning to achieve success. Every leader worth their weight in salt should recognize that they can work in the present (the trees), but live in the future (the forest). Although they see the trees, they must explore the forest and beyond it.
As leaders, we must understand that problems will happen, but they are necessary to get you to think of a better outcome. When we understand this simple process, we can begin to construct a vision beyond the trees and see the forest for what it is. Often, we don’t see the forest of what is beyond it because we tend to identify trees as the prize. Those who focus on just what they can see with their eyes will never manifest the vision in their mind.
A ranger or hunter never enters an area without a plan, but before they form the plan, they have a vision of what they want to achieve. Much in this way, leaders must be critical thinkers and creative planners to navigate through the rough terrain of business and unruly workers. With clear sight of what the future should look like, those inhibiting trees, pain-staking bushes, and underlying pitfalls become easier to navigate to find and create a greater vision.
Just like traveling with a group of hikers through the forest, planning requires the participation of every member of the team. With this in mind, all members should be of similar mindsets and geared toward a mutual goal. One can’t be looking for the mountain top while everyone else is focused on the valley. While on that journey through the forest, leaders must be mindful of who they travel with because one person can misread the direction of the team or plant trees that hinder block their path. You can also become your own worst enemy, so be mindful of the lens you see through to ensure it doesn’t blind you from seeing the forest for trees.
Leaders must have an unobstructed view of how the future could be, therefore; remove all distractions, provide clear and concise directions, and plot a course of how you and those that follow you will get there. Take the time to incorporate the perspectives of your team and determine other alternate routes to you the goal. Don’t miss the forest for the trees and above all, don’t stop looking for what lies beyond. It could be your greatest discovery; a brilliant future!
Written by Terry Budget