Your windscreen is bigger than your rear view mirror.

It’s interesting to take a step and regard where you have been paying most attention this week… future, past, or present?

I have been paying a lot more attention to the future for a while now, and I don’t think it’s the coolest habit for your life. Whether it has got to do with living out of a hotel room, upcoming events to organise next week or the impending move to another country, I’ve been forced into a mode of constantly considering ‘what’s coming next?’

I think in daily life this is probably a shitty, exhausting habit. I am forgetting to smell the roses.

But as it turns out, many leaders actually think this is a pretty neat way to work.

Jeff Smith, CEO of Suncorp surmised his looking forward/looking back outlook in this way;

“Your windscreen is bigger than your rear view mirror.”

During his keynote at Evanta CIO Summit earlier this week Jeff told the story of cultivating a forward-looking culture. He is constantly asking ‘what’s next?’ and encouraging his staff to ask that of him, their superiors and colleagues.

‘Your culture is how work gets done.’ 

Looking forward improves innovation cycles and gets things happening, faster. Suncorp are able to break new ground and set higher bars because they don’t rely on what has been achieved in the past.

While 24/7 future focus in your everyday life may not be healthy, keeping it at the forefront when you are at work is awesome. It untethers you from familiar comfort zones.

Similar thoughts echoed through Fred Wilson’s blog yesterday; a reader had asked about Fred’s personal favourite posts:

He responded:

“There are a few that I think are my best work but I don’t think too much about them.

I’m not really into looking backwards.”

What I’ve learnt from these perspectives is how looking back has a tendency to blur your vision of what’s up ahead. If you work on a project as if you already know its outcome, you’re not doing it right. Doing something radical and new, means breaking out of old habits. In particular, paying a lot less attention to the past than we are used to.

What has come before is just a small tiny mirror in comparison to what lies ahead.