Seeing the trees in the forest
It is odd, I know. Most businesses, books, and inspirational posters encourage us to think big, see the forest through the trees, and go for the gold. I am all for this mindset, but sometimes you need to focus on the details and the plan before you can even attempt to achieve the bigger picture.
I recently took on a new role at Inertia and my team is tasked with trying to build a channel that has never really existed before, Direct to Trade. The opportunity is obvious and the vision well crafted, but the execution of some lofty goals remains a challenge. I’m approaching it in a very methodical way that echoes the notion that you should “Plan your work and work your plan.” Only the extremely lucky actually achieve a huge goal without a plan and without executing against that plan. And even if these lucky souls achieve the goal one time, it probably isn’t sustainable. I learned this lesson the hard way.
One July a few years ago, I climbed Mt Whitney (14,500 feet) with some friends over a 24 hour period. I didn’t really prepare for the climb and instead relied on the fact that I’m athletic, have strong will power, and could simply muscle it through. Seems stupid, but it worked. Over a 24 hour period, we climbed in the hot sun, splashed in the lake on the way up, and ascended the summit in time to watch the sunrise. I wouldn’t say it was a cake walk, but I would say that it was a manageable challenge and we succeeded in achieving our goal.
Now, let’s fast forward to the following Memorial Weekend when the same friends and I signed up to climb Mt Ranier (same elevation). My friends followed their preparation plan for the climb - weekend hikes with 40 pound backpacks, regular exercise, and some light weight lifting. And you ask, what did the ever-crafty (read: cocky) Andrea do to prepare for climb #2? Not a whole lot during that 10 month period. I created a work out plan, but I never executed the plan. Not too smart. It turns out that I ended up on the side of a very scary mountain in a snowstorm wearing crampons and using an icepick to help me stick to the mountain as we climbed in 5 foot deep snow towards the summit. I have never been more miserable in my life and I cursed my failed strategy to muscle through it. We made it to base camp and unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask) an avalanche alert prevented us from summiting the final 1000 feet. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would have made that final stretch.
The lesson learned on that special climb stays with me today. Without question I see the forest through the trees, but I definitely pay attention to those trees. You never know how many there are and how much of a barrier they can be. And so, my strategy has shifted. Every time I attempt to climb a mountain, I make a plan and execute against that plan. So far, so good. And even better, the success is generally repeatable when you follow a plan that works.
Nothing new here, just sharing my thoughts as I prepare to climb a different kind of mountain. Oh yes, and just in case you want a visual representation of this blog entry, the cheesy poster….cheers.