Man vs. Wild – on the Discovery Channel – brings seasoned adventurer Bear Grylls to the most difficult terrain where he shows how to survive in grueling and dangerous environments. It’s a great show if you’re interested in the whole survival thing. Personally, I’ve always been fascinated with survival stories and how people think and react when an every-day outing takes a turn for the worse.

In nearly every episode of Man vs Wild, Bear (yes, that’s his first name) explains how critical it is to understand your options; and that you can’t understand your options until you can see where you are in relation to everything around you. It’s the “lay-of-the-land” principle.

His recommendation? Climb to the highest spot you can find whether it’s a tree, or a butte. Not until you’re at the highest point looking down and all around, can you see where it is you want to go, and the best way to get there.

It’s a natural analogy for sales managers who need to think strategically. However, it should apply to individual sales performers as well. Never get so mired-down with busy-work that you don’t take time to pull-back and check your coordinates.

1) Are the activities on your current to-do list – the many tasks you add each day with good intention – still the best tasks to focus on?

2) Which tasks keep you on a direct path to your goal and which of them side-track you?

3) Where do you want to go in your career? Are you keeping that in mind when you create, prioritize, and execute on your to-do list?

Consistently identifying the essential next steps and the best path forward—while ignoring distractions—is the key to succeeding in sales.