Focus on paths not obstacles

Just recounting a good nugget from a friend who’s a product manager at Adobe. He recently had the good fortune to participate in the BMW Performance School in South Carolina; so he was telling me all about the skills learned and tracks used, etc.

One of the things that stuck with me is how a true performance driver, when there’s an obstacle on the road, doesn’t look at the obstacle, but instead looks around it. Why? Very simple. Your hands will follow your eyes. If you’re looking at that box in the road, your hands on the wheel steer toward it, but if make a note, and you move your eyes to the path around it, your hands will steer towards that unobstructed path. I like it! Makes sense, right? But we often just freeze up and stare at that obstacle–the immediate threat.

I can totally see this applying to ordinary business and design issues at work:

As designers we’re often stymied by some obstacle (lack of team help, project cancelled, feature cut, usability results not used, etc.) so instead of “looking at” the obstacle, just divert your attention to the positive path around and your “hands” (body, mind, attitude) will follow with practical results. The hard part is to seek out that path forward, while keeping the project moving forward as the path may not present itself for a few days or weeks even! But either way, avoid the head-on collision or ugly skidding/fishtailing by being so focused on the obstacle.

(And if you do fishtail, my friend said there’s some slick maneuvers to get out of it…well, in a Beemer anyway :-)

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