The Windshield is Bigger Than The Rearview Mirror - A Balanced Perspective

Late last summer, one of my partners sent me a short e-mail letting me know that when I had a few minutes he would like to talk. I don’t know about you, but the “can we talk?” message always sends a quick shot of anxiety through my system. I’m not exactly sure why, but in my mind I immediately start going through scenarios of what “the talk” is going to be about, and for some reason, my scenarios start badly and then get worse. Not surprisingly, my schedule “just cleared up” and I took a brisk walk down to his office. I gave every appearance that my quick follow up was simply being responsive, but between us, I really just wanted to put an end to my racing thoughts sooner rather than later.

I closed the door and sat down in his office, trying to concentrate on what he was about to say. I am praying that everybody is in good health, hoping that there are no serious team or service issues, and bracing myself for whatever was about to be shared.

The partner was Steve Griffith. Steve is the longest tenured partner with the firm, an active member of our audit team’s leadership group, and the leader of our Financial Services Niche, which serves community banks across the state. He was upbeat as he started the conversation with a short overview of the current state of the Financial Services team and his view of the overall market for their clients.  Over the past few years as our Austin office has grown, we have had the good fortune of attracting and developing a very strong group of managers that serve our banking clients, while all of our partners serving those clients office in San Antonio. He continues to discuss that while the Financial Services leadership team is highly integrated, having a partner in the Austin office would provide a great deal of opportunity for our overall team development, which most certainly would benefit our clients. Lastly, he believed that he should be that partner and was suggesting a move to Austin, so long as I, along with the rest of the partner group, were in agreement.

By now, I am fully concentrating on our conversation, even contributing a little, and have forgotten about my worst-case-scenario-itis that I was suffering from just a few minutes earlier. Now I have energy and enthusiasm, simply feeding off of his energy and enthusiasm!

Have you ever heard the expression “there is a reason that the windshield is so much bigger than the rearview mirror?” The reason being what is in front of you is much more important than what is behind you. This seems like really good professional advice for young people as they focus on their short and long-term development. Steve recently celebrated his 30th anniversary with the firm, which is a significant milestone. While many people would be spending their 31st year “looking in the rearview mirror,” Steve has sold his home in San Antonio, bought a home in Austin, and he and his wife have started a new and exciting chapter in their lives personally and professionally. He is clearly focused on the windshield. I like to say that in our senior leadership development we aren’t trying to teach old dogs new tricks, we are going to trick old dogs into new things. Well, this time the trick was on me. I was inspired by Steve and his commitment to his team and clients in making such a significant life change. It turns out that the windshield analogy is not only good for younger professionals, it’s good for all of us.

Congratulations, Steve, on 30 years. We have been blessed by your example, and look forward to what’s in front of us!