There are multiple pieces of glass and mirrors on a car. They are designed for visibility and safety. The windshield allows you to see what's in front of you. The side windows allow you to see what is coming at you from the sides. The side-view mirrors allow you to see your blind spots. The rear windshield gives you visibility behind you and rear-view mirrors allow a quick glimpse of what's behind you. There are so many coaching metaphors that have been used based on what I just described. The world has been tough over the past 2 years. If you watch the news, it's easy to get fearful, depressed, or pessimistic. Step into this episode with me. I want to share two analogies from the car to give you new perspective
The first metaphor goes back to the rear-view mirror. A common coaching metaphor here is to say this. Don't spend your time staring in the rear-view and living in the past. You'll miss what is in front of you and crash. That's so good. Here's my version. The rear-view mirror provides a glimpse of the past. In defensive driving, you are taught to take momentary glimpses every 3-5 seconds. Stay focused in front of you or live in the present and look toward the future. However, take glimpses of the past to give you perspective of where you came from. Let me give some examples. I was at Total Life Freedom Retreat in St. Augustine, Florida in mid-February where we broke into four-person groups to mastermind and help each other grow. We were talking about where we all were in our lives and businesses. Frankly, some of us were getting discouraged that we weren't further along. Can you relate? That's when I shared this story about Teresa and I. We were on the struggle bus from 2006 to 2012 with tons of debt, low income, and no family near us. Teresa was home with the kids, rarely getting out, because we had either one car, no money, or she was overwhelmed with raising little ones. I would be cleaning my guts out, constantly working in hopes of digging our way out of the hole I put us in! She would call me and I'd do my best to encourage her. "Teresa, I know things are tight. But do you remember 24 short months ago. I was digging for quarters in car to pay for gas. We recycled cans for a couple bucks to buy a pizza combo date night. We had 35 creditors chasing us down and making your cry. We lived in a house that didn't feel safe and I was always working?" How could she forget. Teresa would go back to that place with me for a glimpse of where we were just 24 months ago. I said. "Look at us now. We still have no money and I still work a lot. But we paid off $30,000 in debt and have half the creditors calling us. We have two cars and live in a nicer house that is safe. We take date nights once per month. They are inexpensive, but better than pizza combos. You're still a stay at home mom." These words instantly softened her heart and I could feel her smile coming. She would thank me for the perspective I was painting. We weren't out of the woods, but we were closer to grandmother's house. In summary, I learned how to measure progress in an emotional way and communicate it to my wife. I did this that day for my friend John Schuchman. He is the host of the Real Estate Survival Guide Podcast, which helps new realtors survive their first few years. I did the same thing for John and shared a glimpse of who I remember him being just 1 year prior. He felt so refreshed. This is called perspective. We all need it. It's the glimpse we take in the rear-view to see where we came from, giving us confidence in where we are going. And confidence creates success.
The second metaphor explains perspective from a different part of the car. I've run out of gas over a dozen times in my life. I tend to ride "E" until the light goes on. I know that the car still have up to 50 miles from there, so I push it. It's really dumb and I'm sure nobody listening to this has even done that? Anyway, I was driving with my family during our month-long Florida trip. My wife was glancing over at the dashboard. I could tell she was getting tense. "Are you going to get gas?" I know she likes a quarter tank as a minimum. My risk meter is way lower. I responded. "Not yet. We have plenty of gas left." This was not the answer she wanted to hear. Let me pause and explain something about each of our perspectives. I was looking at the fuel meter and it showed an eighth of a tank. The fuel light was not on and I had a ton of driving left. I knew she preferred a quarter tank, but it wasn't that far off. She was looking from the passenger seat. Did you know that there is a gap between the fuel needle and the instrument panel. From the driver's direct perspective, the needle showed 1/8 tank. But from the angle of the passenger's seat, the needle is directly over the empty line. My wife's perspective was that the gas was empty and the light was coming on any second. She was tense. In the past, our different perspectives caused arguments in the car. This time it hit me. We have different perspectives and different risk meters. I want to relate this story to any cleaning company owner that is like me driving. You know your business as you've been driving it. You know you're tank is at 1/8 and almost empty. You've got a little bit left and you can make it to the next refill. You may have been going this way your entire journey. You're like me... a professional empty-line rider! Your perspective is correct, but it's going to cost you. Remember, I confessed to running out of gas a dozen times. That is nothing to be proud of and a clear indication that my way is not working. My wife's perspective adds margin into the driving trip, reduces anxiety and worry, and allows for more peace. Her way is right. Are you running your body like I run my car? Are you burning yourself out, running on empty, for an extended amount of time? You may believe that you'll be fine as "I've always done things this way." Well, you're right until you're not. What if you have an adrenal crash and can't get off the couch during the day, yet you can't sleep at night? What if you fall asleep at the wheel because you're so tired? What if you injure yourself badly because you were overtired? What if your burnt-out state harmed someone else emotionally or worse yet? What if you caused the death of someone else? Could you live with that? If you continue to ride E, you will eventually run out of gas. Your business could fail. Your marriage could fail. Your health could fail. Is it worth it? Add margin back into your life and take the passenger's seat perspective. Margin creates peace. Peace creates strength. Strength creates confidence. Confidence creates success.
This was a heavy episode. You may never look at the rear-view mirror of the gas meter the same again. I hope not.
I want to thank our AirBnB host, Bruno for allowing us to stay at his home in Largo, FL. Bruno, you were an excellent host.
The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.