From the Founder

The View From Your Windshield

Dr. Ivan Misner

There’s a reason why your windshield’s larger than your rearview mirror.  It’s important to have the clearest view possible of where you are going.  As a result, your windshield is substantially larger than your mirrors.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to know what’s behind you and to learn from where you’ve been.  However, if all you are looking at is your rearview mirror, it’s because you’re going backwards.  When you do that in life, you are not living in the present and you are not aware of what may be ahead of you.

Sometimes in life we do need to go backwards a little bit.  However, as soon as possible, we need to put that car in Drive and move forward to our intended destination.  To get to that destination, we should have a map or an app to take us where we intend to go. We set our goal and identify the route to reach it.  Sometimes, we have to take an alternate route because of heavy traffic or accidents along the way (both good metaphors for life).  But in either case – you need to have a general idea of where you want to go. 

I know people who work hard, have a fast-paced life, and are always very busy, but they don’t set life goals (and some don’t even set business goals).  From my perspective, most of these people are lost.  They are lost because if you don’t know where you want to end up, going faster won’t get you there quicker.

Windshield wipers are another great metaphor for life.  Sometimes the weather is so bad, you need something to help keep things clear.  Other times, you need even more help than that.  Years ago, I was driving with my family up to our lake house in Big Bear, California.  Suddenly, we hit a patch of fog that was so incredibly thick, I could not see the road in front of me at all!  Worse yet, we were driving up a mountain so I couldn’t see anyplace that was safe to move the car off the road.  So, I rolled down the window and stuck my head out and literally drove ahead looking down at the little white ceramic Botts’ Dots that are on so many highways throughout the country.  [By the way, they are called Botts’ Dots after Elbert Botts who invented them in the 1950’s.]  I drove very, very slowly staying in alignment with the Dots while my wife looked ahead to warn me if she saw the lights of any car ahead of us (thankfully, she didn’t).  After a mile or two, the fog cleared enough for me to roll up my window and simply drive ahead slowly. 

To me, the metaphor for this is that sometimes we may need an assist to get where we are going. It may be our life partner or business teammates or a mentor who helps us see more clearly. The key is – we generally need to continue to move forward (safely – of course) in order to get to where we want to go.  

One last observation – don’t let objects obstruct your view out of your windshield.  There will be people in life that will get in the way of where you are heading.  Don’t let them.  There will be people who want to stop you or keep you from looking forward. Don’t let them do that either. Keep the windshield of your life as uncluttered as you should keep the windshield of your car.

Your rearview mirror is to see what is behind you, what you already passed, and what is in the past.  With the crazy times we live in, it is more important than ever to remember that your windshield is larger than your rearview mirror for a very good reason.  From this moment forward know that it is the view out of your windshield that will take you where you want to go in life. 

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.  He is also the Founder of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization.  His latest book, Infinite Giving, The 7 Principles of Givers Gain® is a book about building a life and business where you don’t have to choose between winning or helping others. 

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