The expression, “barking up the wrong tree” means pursuing a mistaken or misguided line of thought or course of action.
This makes me think of a dog barking under a tree at a squirrel who is actually in another tree laughing at the dog!
Many leaders have made this mistake. Focused on one thing while another thing of far greater importance was being overlooked. You probably know someone who had done this or does this.
The lesson is how to avoid barking up the wrong tree ourselves.
Here’s a way to make this happen less or not at all.

  1. Review your end goal often. This is something so easy to miss. From neglecting to review the goal of a meeting to a marketing campaign to the real goal of a sales call. Note: Getting the end sale is usually not the goal of your first meeting. Rather, the relationship is, and securing the next step in the sales process.
  2. Stop and take stock of what you are doing. If that dog under the wrong tree had stopped barking and looked up and around it might have realized it was wasting energy and effort on something that just wasn’t there.
  3. Alter the tactics. A dog can bark a long time and get nothing accomplished. Staying the course on a campaign or path that is not producing results is a lot of barking for nothing. Check-in and determine results, and then keep on or alter what you are doing.

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Shawna Schuh, CSP
Helping leaders evolve.  
Executive Coach, Speaker, Columnist & Author
President, Women in the Pet Industry Network

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