180. Driving Through The Rearview Mirror
The Los Angeles Olympics occurred in August 1984. That was the same month that the Space Shuttle Discovery was launched on its maiden voyage.
Prince’s “Purple Rain” hit #1 on the album charts and the last VW Rabbit in history was manufactured.
All in August 1984.
This probably explains why you don’t know the names Brian "Cub" Keene and James "Wilbur" Wright. They also made history in August 1984.
Together, in their Chevy Blazer, they backed out of a driveway on August 1, 1984, and proceeded to drive 9,031 miles... in reverse.
After 37 days of looking in the rear view mirror, they had passed through 15 US states and parts of Canada. All going backward.
It’s a World Record for longest distance driving in reverse.
Well done, lads.
How I Drive
Call me crazy, but when I drive a car I mostly look out the windshield. I find it to be the best way to ensure I’m going in the right direction, that I see my options, and can avoid any obstacles that may potentially be in my way.
Sure I periodically glance around me - you know, via the rearview and side-view mirrors - to make sure nothing in the past will creep up and harm me.
I’m guessing you probably do the same. After all, it is the safe and logical way to drive. Can we all agree on that?
So tell me, how come when it comes to other important areas of your life, why do you spend most of your efforts looking in the rearview mirror, pretending that what’s behind you is a sign of the future?
The Other Metrics
There are two types of metrics: leading indicators and laggards.
Leading indicators tell you where you are going, lagging indicators tell you where you’ve been.
A nifty example of a lagging indicator is your bathroom scale.
If you are anything like me, you’ll do your best to eat healthily, maybe even exercise every once in a while. Then you step on the scale hoping something is different. But it’s not, your weight has not changed. Nothings changed.
That scale is a lagging indicator. It is simply a representation of the past. It shows you what already happened, not what will happen in the future.
Lagging indicators don’t (consistently) change behavior. That’s what leading indicators do.
A leading indicator in weight loss, for instance, may be daily measurement of the calories you consume with the goal of maintaining a 2000-calorie diet.
You can adjust the leading indicator as you go, knowing it will have a direct impact on the lagging metric (your weight).
Is Your Leadership Lagging?
How are you determining your effectiveness as a leader? Are you measuring it simply by the assessment in your yearly job review?
Are you defining your effectiveness by whether or not you get promoted?
If you said yes to either of those last to questions then, well, insert face palm emoji.
Both the yearly job review and job promotions are lagging indicators. They are like the bathroom scale - by the time you get to that measurement, it’s too late to adjust anything.
Unlike laggards, leading indicators of leadership allow you to understand what’s working and what isn’t. They allow you to get a view into your behavior and adjust your weaknesses. The leading indicators ensure you actually do get a great review and can also get that promotion you want.
Leading indicators of your leadership effectiveness can be done through anonymous surveys, leadership audits, and other similar insights*.
Perhaps it’s time you sat down and looked at how you are measuring the important things in work and life.
Stop living your life by looking in the rear view mirror.
The World Record has already been claimed. Keep your focus on the future - look out the windshield.
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*Shameless plug: want to get a leadership audit? Contact me. It’s what I do. I will give you the leading indicators and then help improve…maybe dramatically.
“If it cannot be measured, it cannot be managed."
- Peter Drucker
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