There is a Forest Around Those Trees

I have to admit, sometimes I get into the minutiae like  a curler sweeping the stone toward the bullseye on the last slide of the gold medal match. It’s not my fault, I am a natural researcher, *shrugs* but I also realize that I can do this to my own detriment. I have a mantra, in business and writing, when this happens. “There is a forest around those trees” is my nomo rang ge kyo.  If I imagine a forest, sometimes it even works!

Though I’m not qualified to teach meditation, I swear by this technique.  What happens next, is I usually take a look at all those very specific parts and start reviewing it against the main point of my mission, or big idea. Step one is to ask the question, “does this have anything to do with the central theme”? If it does I can then attempt to ascertain, “does this enhance, confuse, or detract from my big idea”? If I’m honest with myself, I usually find that I’ve gone off track and am not creating a stronger business case or story.

If changes need to be made, I don’t scrap my thoughts, but I try to mold them into a supporter of the big idea. The reason being, is there is typically some inspiration that was connected to the theme, but I simply lost my way in the trees. I will look for anything that has to do with the big idea and rework the rest of the thought to support this theme.

Sometimes, though, there is no connection. I find that I can’t even see the light when I do a 180 in the rabbit hole.  That is when I review the big idea and try to determine whether or not the idea was strong enough. Why would I get so off track? Was I tweeting too much; was there some stray piece of information that stole attention from the theme; was there simply not enough supporting evidence to support what isn’t a big idea at all – rather it’s support of another big idea yet not thought of? Whichever of these variables is the case, will shape what the rectification (or complete destruction) of the plan will be.

The trees are great – you might find a monkey, syrup, underdeveloped paper, or a tire swing…wheeeee! But if you think about it, monkeys live in the forest; syrup adorns pancakes, but that is only part of the meal; paper is useless unless filled with writing or drawings (can’t forget origamie); while a tire swing is always fun. I don’t know what possessed me to include that – it sounded like a good idea at the time – I guess. At any rate, if I start obsessing over pancakes I may completely forget that I was writing about great breakfast combinations.

Look at me. Here I am using pancakes and breakfast as a metaphor, when I started with forests and trees.  If anyone asks, this was done purposefully to prove the point. Anyway, if you ever find yourself overly concerned with one thing in your own business, or that every task is not integrated with the big idea, stop and review what your big idea is and whether or not your obsessive compulsive behavior about details is actually distracting you from supporting the overall growth of your business.

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About Therran Oliphant

Therran Oliphant is a strong advocate for developing the academic and practical field of Integrated Marketing Communications. Holding an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) from Eastern Michigan University, Therran has been a staunch advocate for developing the theoretical, practical and applicable concepts of the field, especially as it comes to digital advertising and media. His main passion is helping marketers more accurately interface with the technology community and ask the right questions to help them accomplish the objectives their brand customers have set. A career in data and advertising technology has allowed him to have a unique perspective on the science of utilizing the right methodologies to systematically ask the right questions that lead to delivering the outcomes necessary for success.