Have you ever heard the phrase “you can’t see the forest for the trees?” Well today, I want to talk about why they phrase, or as I like to call it “proximity blindness” is the very reason that you should always have outside eyes and ears, experts, coaches, masterminds, and consultants helping you with your podcast, business, or whatever.
We all suffer from proximity blindness… this inability to see the forest for the trees… You need a bird’s eye view to be able to have a good perspective on a problem sometimes. When you are too close to something, you may not be able to have the 30000 foot view of things. The outside perspective if often crucial for you to find the truth.
When you are so focused on the details of a situation, it’s hard to see the bigger picture at all.
In the sense of running a business, the various small immediate problems which must be dealt with make it impossible to focus or do anything about the larger problem which is setting the smaller ones off – which means that you cannot effectively deal with the smaller ones, since the bigger problem – the forest – will always be generating new ones.
I found a similar saying which is: When you are up to your waist in alligators, it is hard to remember that you came here to drain the swamp. In order to get rid of the ‘alligators’, you need to drain the swamp. But you can’t drain the swamp, because if you stop fighting the alligators, they will eat you up, and in order to drain the swamp, you need to use all your available attention and efforts – which are currently fully occupied in avoiding being eaten. But the swamp is the REAL problem, and if you can drain that, the alligators will disappear.
You are seeing details, or problems, or information. But you do not recognize that there is something larger involved. You are only seeing the surface.
But less think about this in terms of growth as well… Rather than seeing only the little problems while missing big problems, what if the big things you are missing are actually opportunities or good possibilities?
The trees seem simple or easy to deal with so you are not ‘seeing’ anything else.
And so you may simply admire the trees, and walk on by something wonderful, or you may cause a small problem to become a much larger one, because you failed to realize that ‘the trees’ were actually an entire forest.
And this is where the coach, the consultant, or the mastermind can help you see the things you are missing.
I want to leave you with the ancient parable of the blind men and the elephant. As I’m not a literary scholar or expert on ancient parable expert, I’m bringing in my consultant Wikipedia to tell you more about it.
“The parable of the blind men and an elephant originated on the ancient Indian subcontinent, from where it has been widely diffused. However the meaning of the popular proverb differs in other countries. It is a story of a group of blind men, who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant’s body, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then describe the elephant based on their limited experience and their descriptions of the elephant are different from each other. In some versions, they come to suspect that the other person is dishonest and they come to blows. The moral of the parable is that humans have a tendency to claim absolute truth based on their limited, subjective experience as they ignore other people’s limited, subjective experiences which may be equally true.
The earliest versions of the parable of the blind men and the elephant is found in Buddhist and Hindu texts, as they discuss the limits of perception and the importance of complete context. The parable has several Indian variations, but broadly goes as follows:
A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable”. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said “This being is like a thick snake”. For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, “elephant is a wall”. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.”
There you have it. Think you might be suffering from proximity blindness? You might want to consider applying for my podcaster mastermind. You can apply at https://dannyozment.com/podcastermastermind