I realized one day that as I was driving my car, it would drift to the left or the right. I couldn’t figure out the reason for this drifting. It didn’t seem right.
The car didn’t seem to pull one way or the other. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
Then, it hit me! I realized what was happening.
My car wasn’t drifting one way or the other because of a mechanical failure. The car was drifting because of what I was looking at.
My eyes would dart to one of those new-fangled changing billboards. My eyes would stay fixed to the right where the billboard was. Then the car would drift.
Or, I was driving down the city street and I would begin to look at the pile of garbage sitting outside of a house. My eyes would become fixated and my car would drift to the left toward the garbage.
Have you experienced this phenomenon? Many people have reported on this.
Amateur race car driver Garth Stein wrote: In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.
This is called Target Fixation.
What Are You Looking At?
Target Fixation causes us to drift to the places we’re not actively trying to go. When we target fixate, we’re looking at something that is drawing us away from our destination.
The thing we fixate on may be the new shiny leadership lesson, a dream vacation, or the billboard trying to get our attention.
Every time we fixate on something that is not our goal, we begin to drift away from our goal. We have to be careful!
Pay attention to what you’re looking at.
Is it the vision you’ve cast for the organization? Are you looking at the goal for this quarter? Do you pay attention to the next step in the process?
These are the things we need to look at. We need to pay attention to what will get us to our goal.
We need to stop focusing on things that draw us away from our mission, vision, and goal.
Put on the horse blinders that you see racing horses wear. These keep the horses from noticing the peripheral objects to the right or left of the horse. The horse has tunnel vision.
This is what we need to have. We need to create tunnel vision in our leadership so we stop veering to the left or the right. When we focus on and look at the right things, we go down the straight and narrow path.
Let’s make sure we’re looking at the right things!