Live Through the Windshield, Not the Rearview Mirror

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I love talk radio.


Colin Cowherd – ESPN Radio Host

Specifically, really good, polarizing, entertaining, talk radio.  My favorite radio personalities are those who excel at making an interesting argument.  I was listening to the December 12th podcast from “The Herd“, Colin Cowherd’s national daily radio show, and he was talking about the recent job openings in college football and how the landscape has evolved over the last decade.  Then he said this,

“You have to live your life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.”

I immediately hit pause on the broadcast and sat back in my chair.  Did I hear what I thought I heard?  I quickly pressed the rewind button and went back into the podcast.  I listened again and it was exactly what I heard.  I scrambled for a pen to make sure I could transcribe the words knowing it would be my next post.

After sitting and reflecting for a while, I realized just how much of an epidemic it is in our country to live life in the rearview mirror.  Do me a favor. Take two minutes and think about the past.  What came up?

  • Bad Decisions
  • Business Failures
  • Regrets
  • Relationship Failures
  • Maybe even BIG Accomplishments (although most thinking is directed at the negative)

“The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.” ~ Peter Drucker

Why is it that after hundreds of failures, someone can be successful?  On the other hand, why is it that after being so successful, great companies (or football programs) come to a screeching halt?

It’s easy to see great companies (and football programs in Colin’s reference) get hung up on what they accomplished in the last 10, 20, even 50 years.  Sorry Michigan football fans, this is you.  This is also what happened to the American auto industry in the 80’s and 90’s. Their trophy rooms are full of hardware outlining numerous feats and accomplishments.  But, none of them are recent.  They’ve gotten fat and happy, and spent too much time admiring the rearview mirror.

Conversely, how can a life filled with failure, do the exact opposite and produce success?  I believe the person makes a decision to live life through the view of the windshield.  All that matters is what is in front of them, and how can they best apply their passion, knowledge and hustle to achieve their goal.  Sure they’ve failed.  Who hasn’t?  They chose to use failure as a learning experience, and not as a scar for eternal pain and suffering.

My rearview mirror: I have many accomplishments. I’ve made many mistakes. I have regrets.

My windshield: I have an amazing list of opportunities and big goals in front of me.  Watch what happens next!

ACTION ITEM: I’m working every day to live my life through the view of the windshield.  Constantly pushing forward, while learning from what’s in my rearview mirror.

Career Advice From My Four-Month-Old

Career Advice from Landon

Career Advice From My Son

A little over a week ago, my son turned four months old.  It’s crazy to think how fast time goes by.  I spend my evenings wondering how my wife and I could be so lucky to have him in our lives.  We stare for hours on end at this little gift and marvel at his ability to keep us occupied with little to no effort.

I got to thinking about what he’s already taught me in his short time here on this earth.  I came up with four career tips from my son I think we can all learn from.  We really can learn a lot from kids!

What can a four-month-old teach you?

  1. Scream When You are Hungry.  Landon doesn’t fuss often, but when he does, it is because he’s hungry and he’s going to let you know what he wants.  How does this relate?  I guarantee you’re hungry for something right now in your life or career, but you haven’t screamed to let anyone know it.  Although I don’t know if “screaming” will get you the desired outcome you’re looking for, I know my son knows how to get what he wants and he does it through communicating.  Try it.  You may be surprised what you can get after you tell someone it’s important to you.
  2. Sleep When You are Tired.  This one is pretty simple, but I believe it is often overlooked in a society that’s focused on “grinding” or busting ass for endless hours.  Get some rest.  You’re more pleasant to be around and your brain will operate at much higher levels.  Working until exhaustion will not win you a badge of honor.  Sleep when you are tired.  Take a nap if need be.
  3. Smile Easily and Often.  Children have the easiest of smiles.  They’re not jaded.  They’re not overwhelmed with stress and fear.  They just smile with a sort of big soul quality about them.  I think there is a lot to be admired by this quality.  Take a deep breath, smile for what you’re thankful for, and be more mindful of what really makes you happy.
  4. Playfulness Wins Attention.  Who gets the attention?  The grouch, or the charismatic, energy-enthused, young at heart person you know?  Children don’t even understand this because they wouldn’t spend their time any other way throughout the day.  They laugh, play, and are thrilled to learn new things and take on new challenges.  Do they have jobs and bills to pay?  No.  But is that all that’s really keeping you from being yourself and enjoying your craft? I doubt it.

Action Item: Take note of the four words below.

Scream. Sleep. Smile. Play.

Two of My Favorite Questions for Leaders

The more I read, the more I learn about the highest achievers asking better questions than the rest of their peers.  So I continued to think about my favorite questions to ask, and I had to share with the group as these two questions have helped my career a great deal.

Question 1 – What does success look like?

Here are the reasons I love this question:

  1. It gets to the root of what your client is really looking to achieve.  Be specific.  How much? By when? What will you feel like when you get there?
  2. If you don’t know what success is, how on Earth can you come back in the future to discuss other ventures?
  3. I’ll admit, sometimes my version of success didn’t align with my client’s version.  Here’s a tip – their version is more important. 
  4. Understanding what success looks like may open up other opportunities to your relationship.
  5. Case studies sell.  Understanding what success is will help you with the before and after story for your case study.
  6. Success can be losing weight, hitting a revenue target, reducing production time, or growing market share.  Whatever it is can provide a strong point of focus for an entire team.  When the entire team knows what success is, there is a much higher likelihood of achievement.

Lastly, here are a couple versions of how I would ask this question:

  • If we were to partner up on “said agreement”, can you please tell me what success looks like three months down the road?
  • What does success look like for someone in your shoes?
  • Six months down the road, tell me what a successful partnership looks like in your eyes?

Question 2 – What more can I do for you?

Here are the reasons I love this question:

  1. Asking it with sincerity means you care.  If you care, your chances for winning go up exponentially and your relationship will thrive.
  2. It shows you’re not just a hired gun.  Don’t get me wrong, doing your job/task is super important.  Asking what more can be done is CRUSHING IT with your client.
  3. If you were a personal trainer and asked this question, it means you believe in your client outside of your 45-60 minute paid sessions.  It means you’ll be there for them for the long run.
  4. In the example above, I asked you to be specific.  In this example, I recommend being generic.  Don’t lead the witness to their problems or challenges.  Sometimes there could be a great deal of fear involved.  Let them tell you.  Respect and empathy will be earned by listening genuinely.
  5. Ask those you work with.  Note, I didn’t say “work for you.” Chances are they make your life better.  What can you do to make their lives better?

There is only one recommendation I can think of in regard to this question.  Do it frequently and do it with sincerity.

While reading Tony Robbin’s Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!, I came upon chapter 8.  Very telling for this post.  By the way, if you’re looking for a book to crush in 2015, the principles Tony teaches WILL help you.

Questions Are The Answer

Questions are the Answer

ACTION ITEM: I’d love it if you started using these two questions to your benefit this week.  I’d place a sizable bet, you’ll be encountered with the opportunity to ask one or both of these in the very near future.  Make the most of it!