Driving Lessons and Macro-Economics

Two of my favorite subjects, I assure you - - but give me a few minutes and you'll get the linkage between the two.

At work, yesterday we announced that we were acquiring a company that is bigger than us for $6.4B (I don't even know how much that is, other than to say it's definitely a bigger number than my paycheck. I'm pretty sure . . ) Anyway, such announcements can often lead to angst in the workplace as some folks readily accept the challenge of the change, while some folks turn inward and have a tough time with it. The angst comes not just from the change itself, but from the fact that different people deal with it differently. Always fun times for an HR guy!

Anyway, during one of the leadership meetings we had yesterday someone stood up and said something very profound: "I look through my windshield, not my rear view mirror."


As they said in Kung Fu Panda, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present." What's happened in the past is, as they say in economics (that's the link . . . didn't want you to miss it), a "sunk cost" - it can not be changed our retrieved, merely learned from.


I think it means that we're supposed to live in the moment. Here's an example. We went out for dinner last night to celebrate Ginger's birthday, and at one point we looked at the boys: Kai was using his straw as a pump with his finger over the top, drinking slow, making a mess, head on the table. Kade had two straws and was, apparently, attempting to blow the drink up into the air so he could catch it on his tongue. Proper restaurant behavior? Who cares! Two boys having fun, and inviting us to join them as they lived in the moment? Yes, and you better believe we took them up on it.
The "sunk cost" part refers to the baggage that we carry with us through life, which (IMHO) is best left behind with the people to whom it really belongs. Remember that the more baggage you carry with you from your pre-RU life, the more likely your kids are to see it, think it's cool, and start carrying it themselves. Not cool.


Focusing on the future (rather than the past - no one ever focuses on the present at work!) is helpful for the organization, your co-workers, and your teams. Think of it this way: you're driving 70 mph down the highway with your eyes solely focused on your rear view mirror. Rear view mirrors are smaller than windshields and therefore only give you a small view; they only show you where you've been and not where you're going; you only see a few things that you can't change, rather than a world full of possibilities. Again, not cool.

See ya' soon -

1 comment:

  1. I think about this concept of sunk cost often- it's one of the few economic terms that resonated with me in college. Go figure.

    Anyway, I like your analogy here because the only way to identify a sunk cost is to look at your current conditions. If we're always looking back we can't see the life that is washing over us every moment today, ready to carry us away from previous "bad" investments. In the present we can effectively evaluate whether a change in strategy will help or if it's time to let it go because we know where we are rather than where we were. The present can be so much more fun if we invite it!

    Thanks for the reminder...