Last week, my husband and I toured four national parks in California. One of them was Sequoia National Park, sister park to King’s Canyon, located side-by-side in southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley in California. There is so much to say about what we experienced, but one theme was the sheer size of the landscape and all the pieces that were a part of it.
It makes me think about workplaces and how sometimes the work environment just gets too big and overwhelming — either in reality or just in our mind.
In these western Parks, the rocks, the mountains, the trees — they were all big. Large. Looming. This was especially true of the giant sequoia trees. These magnificent creatures dwarf everything else. We walked through the Giant Forest, home to hundreds of these majestic beings. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world. It stands at 268 feet tall, 40 feet wide, and is 1700 years of age. The properties of the sequoia wood make it last virtually forever, because it won’t rot and insects don’t like it. They don’t die of old age, they just fall over! (Consequently, you see lots of fallen trees that look like it just fell, but it could have occurred centuries ago.)
It would be easy to walk through such grandeur and think that you were inconsequential. But that’s just not the case. Even though we, as humans, are a tiny-bit size compared to these massive organisms, we can do damage to these giants without realizing it. One example is that the trees have a shallow and sensitive root system and repeated and long-term traffic can be very harmful. In managing the trails, the Park Service is doing much to help preserve the foundation and survival of these amazing trees.
The Park rangers are finding ways where humans and trees can have mutually beneficial relationships. That’s the approach I advocate for the best workplace relationships.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the things (or people) that are looming over your head, recognize that you absolutely make an impact. Your work, your words, your actions, everything you do (or don’t do) all mean something. If you aren’t performing at your best, that impacts others. If you aren’t speaking up when you should, that impacts others. If you’re too loud and bossy, that impacts others. What impact are you making?
Never feel like you don’t matter. You do.