My family and I have recently binge-watched a Netflix show called Hyperdrive. Hyperdrive features a slate of drivers and their souped-up cars racing a course of increasingly crazy obstacles. The drivers go through narrowing walls at top speed, race up inclined six-story tall bridges, and drift their cars sideways into targets. They do all this at night, on a course where they can’t see what’s beyond their headlights.
To make this possible, each driver has a spotter. The spotter and driver are connected via headset, and the spotter can see the whole course as well as what her driver is doing, on monitors. The spotter is the driver’s perspective—as he speeds away from one obstacle to the next, the spotter can give him the lay of the land. The spotter is also the driver’s crew—if something breaks during a lap, they work together to fix it before the car races again. The spotter helps keep the driver (literally) on track and sticking to the strategy they planned before the starting light turned green.
The spotter can also help the driver change strategy if they need to pivot. For example, in one episode the driver Faruk Kaguy breaks an axle on the first obstacle in the semifinal race. He has to manage to get through the rest of the precision course with very limited ability to steer the car. As Faruk is stuck in his damaged car, seeing his dreams fade, the spotter is looking at the whole picture. He realizes that because an earlier contestant was eliminated, all Faruk has to do is finish, and he still has a chance to race again. The driver and spotter change their entire strategy in a blink—now, instead of getting around the course as fast as possible, the goal is simply to make it over the finish line. To stay in the race. Faruk does this, pumping his arms with an enormous smile, then embraces his spotter.
Spotters. Someone helping you gain perspective on the whole picture.
Get your spotter.
We face a different kind of dog in the road when we continue to communicate with people in our lives in the same old way, despite the fact that we can’t get to the outcome we are hoping for. If I lecture my kids when I’m frustrated, even though I know that lecturing them brings me farther from my goal of connection and understanding, I’m facing the dog in the road. Unlike our literal dog, though, we keep trying the old methods, louder, slower, angrier, but all a version of the same tactic.
No, this is what happens the second the meeting is over, and everyone scurries back to their real work. They forget, instantly, about what happened in the meeting and what follow-up actions they are supposed to take. This all exits the brain completely, only to be remembered about ten minutes before (or five minutes into) the next meeting.
I know so-and-so is usually invited to meetings like this one, but does he actually need to be here?