This is a term I learned from motorcycling. It refers to a rider who always sees his fender. In order to see his fender the fender rider isn’t looking out very far ahead. Obstacles seem to come out of nowhere. The fender rider often gets lost, or ignores the easiest path, since so much effort is given to looking at the trail in front of the fender. When asked to describe the ride, the fender rider usually can’t tell you much, except that it was a harrowing challenge and he is worn out.
For those who have never ridden a motorcycle, consider driving down the freeway at 75 mph (or 65 mph, if you prefer to stay within the speed limit). If you’re looking down at the road as it whizzes by, or looking just in front of your bumper, the world is moving extremely fast. Everything in front of you is a blur, and you are a danger to yourself and everyone who shares the road with you.
By looking up, extending your horizon, driving at freeway speeds is much easier. You can see what’s coming and plan your route more effectively. Small course corrections make it easier to avoid big obstacles ahead.
Consider your personal and professional life. Are you riding your fender? If so, it’s time to look up.