It’s hot in Georgia. It’s so hot that my rearview mirror fell off of my windshield the other day. The glue just said, “I can’t take it anymore, I give up”. It made me start thinking about why I needed a rearview mirror any way. I was busy and it took me a couple of days to stop by the auto parts store to pick up the glue to re-attach it.
In the mean time I had to drive to Atlanta without a rear-view mirror.After driving hundreds of thousands of miles over the years, I never realized how useful that mirror could be. It has a definite purpose. Even though it is not the windshield, it is still important. We can learn some leadership lessons from it as well.
1- It allows you to see where you have been
There is a big difference between the windshield and the rearview mirror. From a vision perspective; one shows where you are going and the other where you have been. Seeing behind you is important at times. It reminds you of good decisions and bad ones, and allows you to reflect on them. It is a reminder of past experiences. But remember, the past is just that; the past. It may have been a part of who you were, but doesn’t have to be a part of who you are. Lead with a vision of the future, not a re-living of the past.Lead with a vision of the future, not a re-living of the past. Click To Tweet
2- It makes you aware of who and what is around you
It’s not good to focus on other people all the time but it wise to be aware. Driving is both offensive and defensive. You will be much safer when you realize where everyone is at that moment. When you are acutely aware of those around you, it gives a better understanding of the decisions they are about to make, giving you clarity about your own decisions. For some people, past performance can be a predictor of future results. When you fully understand each member of your team, it allows you to lead from a position of influence, not just authority.When you fully understand each member of your team, it allows you to lead from a position of influence, not just authority. Click To Tweet
3- You see things from a different perspective
If you only see one view of the road you may get tunnel vision. This is when you begin to acutely focus only on one thing, to the point that you lose perspective of all else around you. The rearview mirror gives a contrast to the windshield in that it kind of “wakes you up”. Looking at windshield and mirror at the same time keeps your mind sharper because you are constantly processing different information. As a leader it is easy to become so laser-focused on where you are going that you loose focus on those trying to keep up. Being keenly aware of all of the factors affecting your team allows you to make better decisions about the pace and direction of the organization.
4- It only gives a partial view
While the rearview mirror is helpful and needed, it still only allows you a partial view. Notice the size of the rearview mirror is small in relation to the size of the windshield. If you are driving on a highway and you want to change lanes, you need the rearview mirror, but that’s not all you need. It works best with the side mirrors and you own eyes. You can’t rely on it alone because it will leave “blind spots” that could cause you trouble. Use it but also use your own instincts, and the other information you have, to make right decisions.
Successful leaders make wise decisions after learning from the past, but not to the point of allowing it to overcome their vision for the future