I’m sure you’ve heard of that saying of “you can’t see the forest for the trees”. I have heard it before, but this week it was spoken to me by someone I greatly respect and reminded me of something.
Sometimes we get so deep into things as an educator….the grading, lesson planning, parent meetings/phone calls, assessments, data, behavior concerns, and so much more. Those things are a real every day part of our lives as educators. But sometimes those things can consume us so much that all we see is what’s right in front of us: the trees. And we lose sight that there’s a whole forest out there.
I’m so often guilty of this. I was being really down on some things that I was trying to accomplish on my own and with the help of others. I was asking my advisor, “Am I doing ok” and “Am I doing enough” and “I feel like I’m getting it all wrong”.
That’s when she looked at me and said, “Todd, you can’t see the forest for the trees”. She reminded me that sometimes we need someone in our lives to grab us by the shoulders, look into our eyes, and say STOP.
To say, take a step back. Look at the big picture for a moment. Realize that what you’re doing matters. What you’re doing IS making an impact.
And it lead me into another revelation….I have two friends who I talk to on a daily basis. Two friends who are absolutely FANTASTIC educators. One is in a “newer” position outside of the classroom (but still in education) and one is dealing with their first year in the classroom, period!
I talk to them, and hear the incredible work their doing, and am blown away time and time again. Yet every time I tell them how great they are or how I’m stealing one of their ideas, they say things like “It’s really not that great” or “I could be doing better” or “I’m not as great as _________”.
Every time I’m blown away. How can these two not see how fantastic they are? How can they not see how they’re twice the educator I was at that point in my career. I admire their work and steal their ideas on a daily basis.
And I was reminded this week that I tend to be the same way. I feel like my stuff is junk when I see the greatness of others. I feel like a failure, like someone who really shouldn’t be sharing ideas out there because there are voices that are stronger than mine. Ideas that are more creative then mine.
I realized I had to stop. I had to stop doubting the gifts I had been given. I had to start believing my voice held worth.
It’s funny to say that when I’ve had some great experiences and opportunities in my life. Heck I even co-wrote a book!
But yes, doubt and self-worth are two things I am working on, on a daily basis. Some days I do a much better job at it than others.
But I write this to share my side. To show that we all deal with doubt, insecurities, and getting lost in the trees.
When we focus so much on that tree right in front of us, we can lose sight of the forest. We can lose sight of the bigger picture.
So today, I choose to rest in the fact that I come to work and give everything I have, every day, for these kids. Some days I am a success, and other days I am not. But each day I will go to bed knowing that tomorrow, I will wake up again and try again. These kids need us to own our genius (as Angela Maiers says) and to bring our best for them every day.
Don’t get lost in the trees. Step back and enjoy the beauty of the forest.