Cambridge Dictionary (Online)
English definition of “not see the wood for the trees”
UK (US not see the forest for the trees)
> to be unable to get a general understanding of a situation because you are too worried about the details.

It means that in focusing on the individual trees you cannot see that they form a wood (as in forest). It means that you are unable to see the bigger picture because you are focusing on the details.

I had a meeting with a well renowned person today. I was very surprised to hear him say that if you want to be successful in business then you should focus 100% of your energy on that, and not be distracted by anything else including time out for reflection in a different environment that you may be very curious about.

Of course it makes sense to focus completely on your business. However I find that those that are overly focused on the detail often don’t see the big picture. It reminds me of Covey’s analogy of ’the clock and the compass’ from one of the most influential books on my life – ‘First Things First’ written by Stephen Covey along with A. Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill. The authors assert that

identifying primary roles and principles provides a “true north” and reference when deciding what activities are most important, so that decisions are guided not merely by the “clock” of scheduling but by the “compass” of purpose and values.

Back to ‘wood for the trees’. One of the reasons my Power of Seven groups works so well is that it helps business leaders to take that small bit of time out of their busy lives (1.6% of their time) to see the wood for the trees by getting reflections/ideas/feedback from fellow peers. I haven’t met one business person yet no matter how successful that doesn’t suffer from this human weakness!
Recently a member of a Po7 group arrived to a meeting very stressed. He explained during the update process that he had a major issue with one of his management team, not co-operating, etc. He felt the weight of the world on his shoulders (and looked like he did too!). He then went on to update on other aspects since we met the two months previous. After seven minutes of updating on his overall situation he realised that things weren’t at all as bad as he initially thought. He realised that whilst the issue with one of his managers was important, in the scale of things it was just another issue that he would have to deal with. Overall, his company was back making good consistent profits, his market share was increasing, things with the family were going well, especially having taken action on his ageing parents as a result of a previous Po7 group discussion, and he was doing pretty well himself – he had lost a stone, was back on the bike and eating healthier food. So a temporary issue with a manager was important but not worth carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and in the process feeling like overall things were going badly, when in actual fact that was not the case at all. Can you believe that a seven minute reflection using the Po7 update process could give you a benefit like this. I can. I see it all the time!
Being a member of a Power of Seven group helps you see the wood for the trees.

New groups starting now in Athlone, Dublin, Galway and Limerick. Contact me if interested or let me know anyone that might be? Always on the look out for quality people who could benefit from their own personal advisory board.

Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho was homeless on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, for 35 years. Living amongst dirt and garbage in a spot Raimundo referred to as ‘The Island’, he was known locally for his poetry, which he worked tirelessly on every day in the hope of one day publishing a book.

In April 2011, Shalla Monteiro came across The Island, Raimundo and his poetry. Impressed by his words and wanting to help him achieve his dreams, Shalla set up a Facebook page to publish his poems and introduce him to the world. What emerged from that single act of kindness was far beyond a dream, it was a whole new life altogether.

“Damned is the man who abandons himself. These six words show that the worse the situation is, never ever should a man consider it lost.”


Power of Seven Leaders Retreat Glenstal

Power of Seven Leaders Retreat Glenstal

Our Leadership Journey: Sustaining Performance & Developing Resilience – Physically Mentally, Emotionally & Spiritually. This was the theme for a leaders retreat for a Power of Seven group last week at Glenstal Abbey Co. Limerick.

What did we do?

  • Updated each other on important aspects of our leadership.
  • Updated progress on 12 mth goals.
  • Practiced yoga.
  • Attended the monks church to hear their Gregorian chant.
  • Ate leisurely breakfast and lunch.
  • Attended monks refectory for super in silence.
  • Guided tour by Fr. Anthony Keane – The Mystagogy of the Forest (what has the forest eco system got to do with leadership and resilience?)
  • Talk by Fr Simon Sleeman – What we can learn about management of self and others from ‘The Rule of Benedict’.
  • Talk by Eleanor Winters a Nutritional Therapist on Food & Mood- Managing Stress & Increasing Energy and Resilience Through Nutrition.
  • Walk & Talk paired coaching.
  • Watch a movie “Legend of Baggervance”
  • Talk by Fr Mark Patrick Hederman (Abbot of Glenstal) – How We Use Our Creativity To Deal With Challenge.
  • Tour of Icon Chapel by Fr. Christopher.
  • Established what’s important for next 12 mths and set goals for business, family and self.
  • Laughed, rested, stilled and chilled.

All in all, a great experience was had by all. Thanks to all the guys involved, you played a blinder.

There will be an open enrolment retreat at Glenstal in June. By invitation only. Contact me if you’d like to be considered?

The talks with the monks were very enlightening. They are highly intelligent individuals, with no real egos, pondering on the great questions of life with humour and with searching minds. Dave MD TV Production Company.


The idea of arriving in on a Sunday evening in a relaxed mood from the weekend and getting even more relaxed over the two days was a great foundation for thinking about business, family and oneself in a deep way. Dave MD TV Production Company.


I’m going away with a clear focus on what’s important rather than what’s urgent. Ed MD Healthcare Franchise business.


Being here gave me a chance to understand my core beliefs, ask myself am I being true to them and am I living up to them. It was like being on a holiday yet getting lots of work done. Gerry MD Technology business.


Whilst their is commonality amongst the group there is a variety of views, all which help me to make my own clear conclusions and what’s important to me and my leadership, in a way I just couldn’t do on my own. Ronan MD Timber Component Manufacturing business.


The power of peers. When peers of equal standing get together in a safe and confidential environment it’s amazing what can happen. This was the case yesterday at the launch of the Family Business Forum in Ballinasloe when parents from family businesses around the country gathered to discuss their challenges, share their experience, and offer advice and support to help each another.

The group starts to formally meet on Monday 28th April and every two months thereafter. If you would like an invitation to join then please contact me ASAP. There are only four places left and we anticipate they will go fast.

I had the pleasure of starting this group in a joint venture with Kevin Fahey from Essence of Leadership who runs similar forums to my Power of Seven. Kevin was a joy to work with and our different approaches complimented each other extremely well.

The quality of listening and the degree of openness at the meeting was astounding. It just shows when people come together with similar situations in common how they can be of support to each other. One of the members commented many times how similar the challenges were. Another realised the difference in her quality of listening at the forum and when she is back at her company. There was husband and wife teams which made for interesting dynamics and I’m sure interesting discussions on the journey home! I’d imagine these couples heard each other talk about things they hadn’t discussed themselves before (at least not in the same way).

Here were a few insights/learning mentioned at the close of the day:

Involve others by getting their opinions


I plan to work more with my people


I will acknowledge others contributions more


I will discuss challenges with my staff more


I developed more self- awareness and understand where others are coming from


I plan to listen more to others viewpoints and not just walk away


I’m not going to bottle stuff up but bring out in the open

Note: this group is specifically for parents in a family business. If you are interested in a Power of Seven group for business owners then make contact to discuss interest in a new group starting next month.

Why I feature this article is the similarity it has with the Power of Seven concept and the benefits we can gain from spending quality well facilitated time with peers.

Interesting article on LinkedIn Pulse by Douglas Conant Chairman, Avon Products; Founder, ConantLeadership; Chairman, KELI; Former President, CEO & Director Campbell Soup. Mr Conant talks about his attendance at the CECP’s Board of Boards CEO Roundtable which offers a unique opportunity for learning and growth for CEOs. Forbes has recognized the event as one of the Top 15 Conferences for Meeting Influencers and Innovators, alongside World Economic Forum and Clinton Global Initiative. He says in the article

As corporate leaders, we have a responsibility to represent all of our stakeholders in the most enlightened way possible. This means meaningfully promoting the interests of our employees, customers, consumers, and communities, as well as the needs of our shareholders. It is not an easy job. But it is an important one. We have an obligation to lead our organizations in the most holistic way we can. One of the most effective ways to develop an enlightened perspective is to learn from others.

You can read the full article here. But here is a condensed version of the five reasons that Mr Conant found the Board of Boards CEO Roundtable experience so valuable:

  1. There are No “New” Issues. Believe it or not, the issues we face every day are not new to the world. They’ve been faced countless times by other people, and attending this event provides a tremendous opportunity to learn from their experiences. It is an opportunity to sit face-to-face with up to 50 world-class Chairmen and CEOs who are wrestling with the same exact issues as I am—such as employee engagement, trust, customers, brand, and risk. And, while there may not be new issues, there are new ideas. Every year I search for just one new idea – even one idea from a fellow CEO is enormously beneficial.
  2. Building a Community. Another benefit of this event is its small size. Attendance is capped at 50 people, which leads to a very intimate, “off-the-record” tone with the proceedings. This fosters a tangible familiarity and sense of kinship with peer Fortune 500 CEOs throughout the course of the discussions. You are building a solid network of leadership peers who you can use as a resource in the future. Maybe you don’t have a problem you’re grappling with today. But you might tomorrow. And, through these discussions you begin to create a community of people who you can call up and ask “how would you handle this?” when tomorrow comes. He talks about inspired leadership thinking from Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo. Her commitment to “Performance with Purpose” represents a bold proposition at the heart of her mission.
  3. Diverse But Like-Minded Leaders. Something that really sets this roundtable apart is that the participants come from wildly different sectors of the economy and backgrounds – from banking, to chemical, to food, to insurance. However, they are united in their efforts to develop a higher purpose for their company.
  4. CEOs are Citizens Too. Being a CEO can be a lonely job. Few people understand the responsibilities, challenges, and supreme accountability that go along with the position. But, we’re concerned citizens, too. We want to learn, grow, and help build a better world like anyone else. …. it helps enormously to learn from fellow CEOs who have “walked a mile in our shoes.” So, we can really delve deep and take this opportunity to ask our peers questions like, “How did you manage x crisis?”, “How did you organize and execute this initiative?”.
  5. Societal Engagement is Just Good Business. Increasingly, evidence is overwhelming that corporations must seek greater harmony between their business agenda and the societal agenda. Every year at CECP, we celebrate countless corporations that are a force for good. One example that springs to mind is the work Duncan Niederauer, CEO, New York Stock Exchange (our host for this year’s event), is leading on reintegrating veterans into the workforce.
You can also keep up-to-date with this year’s event on February 24th by following the hashtag #BoB2014 on twitter.