You’re a Tree: People Aren’t Paying As Much Attention to You As You Think

I love me some Bob Goff. Mr. Goff is the author of the worldwide best seller, Love Does, and his most recent work, Everybody Always. I listened to the latter recently via audiobook and took a ton of pearls from this lawyer by day and voice of grace, faith, and love by night. Actually, he expresses these super powers 24/7.

BG, the legend. 

BG, the legend. 

One of my favorite stories that Mr. Goff shared in Everybody Always was a time during his childhood, where he was auditioning for a role in a school play. He was going for the lead character, but was assigned the lackluster assignment of being a tree... no lines, no spotlight, but he was told to just stand in the same location on the stage and hold a green wooden prop.

The main takeaway he learned was that depending on the situation or outcome:

We often create a storyline of ourselves as either the protagonist or villain... which is often untrue.

Our perspective of the world has ourself at the center. If we perform well, everyone will notice and judge us in a positive light... or in other words, the hero. Conversly, if we perform poorly, everyone will judge us as a failure and unworthy of praise and adoration... or fulfilling the role of the villain (ex: I cost us the game, the sale, or our team’s win or loss).

The problem with this lens is that life (and art for that matter) is not black and white.

You might feel like you are the lead character in every setting, but in all actuality, you are a member of a bigger ensemble.

Smile! It’s cool being a tree.  

Smile! It’s cool being a tree.  

View yourself like Bob learned to do... like a tree. You have an important role in the scene, but it’s not all about you. People are not obsessing over your performance. You are not the hero or villain, but a collection of characters playing their part. Each individual part is vital for the success of the entire production.

This perspective is so freeing to me, because for most of my life, I viewed myself as either the protagonist or antagonist in every scene based off of my performance. If I won, I was worthy of love. If I failed, I was unworthy of love. Pretty messed up right? I’ve shifted my focus, like Bob, to see myself as a supporting actor instead of the headliner. My job is to be authentic, stand firm in my values, and grow daily... just like a tree. 

Along this topic, I learned a cool praise from National Championship college football coach, Dabo Swinney, from Clemson. He preaches to bloom where you are planted... as in, make the big time where you are, no matter the title or role. Do your best, serve others, and make the most out of every situation. Russell Wilson shares a similar sentiment, he says, “Make them notice.” ...for the right reasons of course. Through commitment, effort, and competing with no fear. 

How do you view yourself? Is it all about you? If you fail, do you feel everyone is watching and judging? Are you relying on success to receive validation? I’m here to encourage you that everyone is not judging you with that same critical eye that you are judging yourself. You might be the lead character in your own internal movie, but everyone else is staring in their own movie with themself as the star. 

Call to Action:

Shift your focus from being all about YOU, to all about US. Based off of your strengths, what is a specific role that you can excel at that is less about outcomes and more about authenticity, support, and growth?... three traits of a tree.

Remember to bloom where you are planted. With this mindset and approach, I’m confident that you will actually perform better and be a sought after character, no matter the scene, cast, or setting. 


Collin Henderson is an author and speaker who specializes in high performance, mindset, and culture training. Get his books and learn more tools to be the best version of you here.

Collin Henderson