Years ago, I got into a car accident on Virginia’s George Washington Parkway, just outside of D.C. Morning traffic crawled along on this gorgeous bypass road that runs alongside the Potomac River. I was happily headed to my gig as a Marketing Manager at Discovery Networks (yes, I used to get to put on marketing events for The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC – before TLC turned into trashy reality programming….loved it.) Glancing down to tweak the radio, I only took my eyes off the road for a second, but it was enough to miss the guy two cars in front of me stopping short. I jammed my foot on the brake – WHAM! – slamming into the car in front of me.
The responsible culprit – the car two cars up – disappeared. My hood was slightly crunched and something was dripping from the engine, making the car undriveable. Thank God traffic had been moving so slowly at the time. The police officer was sympathetic to my plight when he heard what happened, and it ached him to say this but…
“Sorry. I have to cite you. You rear-ended her, even though she slammed on the brakes because of that other car. Her responsibility was the car in front of her which she didn’t hit. But you did hit her, so unfortunately, you’re the one at fault.”
I get it. We all learn in driving school about the two-car (or is it three? See, I forget…) distance rule: You are responsible for leaving the appropriate stopping distance between yourself and the car in front of you so that if they do slam on the brakes, you can avoid an accident.
Kind of a powerful metaphor, don’t you think?
You are responsible for what’s in front of you, not what’s behind you. (Tweet!)
You can’t change the past so stop cursing that horrible old boss, lamenting that start-up you passed up that made everyone gazillionaires, fretting over whether you should have taken that course, attended that event or invested in that opportunity. Interpersonally, stop dwelling on who’s nipping at your heels, what other people think about what you do or who’s more successful than you.
It’s done. Face forward. Eyes on the road. All of that nonsense is their business. Not yours. (Tweet!)
What are you responsible for now? Only your goals, your forward-momentum from this point on. Forget the distractions. Stop looking back.
God is clever. There’s a reason he didn’t put eyes in the back of our heads. (Tweet!)
Photo credit: epsos.de on Flickr
What one event, opportunity or insecurity will you let go of today to keep your eyes on the prize? Please state your intention out loud and share in the Comments!