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  • Writer's pictureSarahHauer

It's All in the Details

You know the old mantra, "...can't see the forest for the trees."? What does that mean exactly? Most people know, but few people truly contemplate it. The initial concept is simple. It's implications - not so much.

"...can't see the forest for the trees" simply means that a person or organization is so intent on the details of whatever subject, topic, project, etc., that they miss or forget the larger picture or goal, i.e. the forest.

For example, someone working on a project may get so mired down and frustrated by the details of the project and getting them all done perfectly, on time, done to their specifications, that they become overly frustrated. That frustration may blind them to the original intent of the project/goal. They can't see the forest (goal) for the trees (details). This person is so into labeling every oak, every white pine, every balsam that they fail to see the beauty in the surrounding vegetation.

This is where knowledge lies. This is where a person knows what must be done and how to do it. This is a good thing, but it is incomplete.

The implication rarely stated is the opposite. "...can't see the trees for the forest."

What does that mean? This is when someone gets so excited about the overall goal, especially if it is a rather lofty goal, they can't take their eyes off the prize long enough to get the job done. In that case, the job does not get done well enough or timely enough, or the final project is so far off the mark that it isn't recognizable as the original goal and may be rejected. This is a person who is so enthralled in the majesty of the forest that they fail to get the work done to care for each oak, white pine, and balsam.

This is where vision resides. This is where one finds their purpose.

There is an even larger implication here almost no one thinks about: the meadow.

In the middle of that majestic forest, surrounded by all those individual trees, lies a meadow where one can recline with nature and be their whole self.

This is where wisdom lies. This is balance. This is where vision and knowledge come together to create a personal oasis. This is a rare find. When the meadow is reached, it can be glorious!

Where are you on this hike through the woods? Usually, I fall into the category of "I can't see the trees for the forest."

Care to share your experience or ask a question? Shoot me an email at

Thanks for reading!



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