Stop Living In The Past

It's okay to visit but not live there

I’m a huge proponent of using your past to help propel you towards your future. You have a long list of victories you’ve accomplished in your past.

From the first client you landed for your organization to the process improvement you suggested which saved the business millions of dollars to helping out on the shop floor so production could keep going. There are so many great victories in your past. And it is okay to revisit your victories.

Old van from the past with text of stop living in the past

Image by Dillon Klassen

Yet you can’t live there. You can’t live in the past. Not in your victories and ESPECIALLY not in your defeats.

I’ve recently experienced a bout of living in the past. It’s the recent past but the past none the less…

Pam and I recently purchased a used Kia Soul. We really liked the look and feel of the vehicle. And the price seemed great at the time.

Great Leaders Look Back

Casting a great vision is required of any leader worth his salt. He has to be able to look forward and KNOW where the organization he is leading will go.

And that’s what we’re told. Great leaders look forward.

Don't be afraid to look back

Unfortunately, this statement is often followed by bad wisdom. After someone tells us how every great leader looks to the future, we are told great leaders never look back.

I can agree with the first part of the statement. Leaders who get things done know they have to have an eye on the future. I take issue with the next part, that leaders can’t look to the past.

I know great leaders must look to the past. For there are many lessons to be learned there.

Why Great Leaders Look Back

George Santayana, a poet and philosopher, said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Looking Back To Move Forward

There are many things in life I wish I could do over. But I can’t.

The past is the past and there’s no changing it.

Your past is a powerful learning tool

Image By Jason Powell

People will go so far as to say that we shouldn’t reflect on the past. It’s done and over with.

No use crying over spilled milk. Or so the saying goes.

The Wrong Attitude

From my experience, this is the wrong attitude to carry in life. Moving on from the past and never analyzing the past is a disaster waiting to happen.

There’s another saying:

Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

My belief is this quote on the past is a better mantra to carry on in life.

Get rid of the wrong attitude on the past. Take a new view on the past.

Who Are You?

Throughout our lives, we have multiple identities. We may be fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, leaders, businessmen, athletes, and the list goes on.

We have title after title. We have position after position. We have responsibility after responsibility.

The crazy thing is, we can get lost and easily forget who we are.

We don't always know our identity

Image by Hape Gera

That’s one of the reasons why I loved watched the beginning of CBS’s CSI: Miami. The theme song for the show was The Who’s Who Are You song.

Who Are You is a catchy song that, at the beginning, simply asks Who are you? Who, who, who, who?

The question is pointed and it’s loaded.

Do you know who you are? Do I know who you are? Who are you?

There’s a good reason this resonates with me. It should resonate with you.

Your Past Doesn’t Define You. It Helps Shape You

Everyone has a past. We all know this.

Some pasts are filled with darkness: Sexual abuse. Emotional abuse. Accidents. Fear

Some pasts are filled with light: Great families. A happy childhood. Adventures lived again and again.

And most are filled with a mixture of the light and darkness.

Regardless of how much light or darkness we have in our pasts, we can’t allow our pasts to define us.

Our pasts tend to leave a mark on us. Our opinions are typically formed on the basis of what we’ve experienced.

We see our worth through lenses tinted by our past.

“Who we are in the present includes who we were in the past.”
Mister Fred Rogers

Your Past Doesn’t Define You

We see so many people dogged by their past. They live in their failures or success.