“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis
I have a lot of conversations with a lot of leaders, and sometimes it’s easy to listen without actually realizing what’s being said. In other words, the details are sometimes so consuming that we don’t take a step back and think about the bigger picture.
In particular, sometimes I think we fail to recognize how much time we spend talking about the past. This thing happened, this person did this, the government did that, etc. We spend so much energy focusing on things that are over and done with.
It’s a great thing to learn from past experience. But we have a tendency to do more than just learn from it. We obsess over it. Sometimes I think we focus on all the bad things that happened in the past as a way to build a case for why aren’t as successful as we’d like, sort of a “…because of all these negative things it’s no wonder we aren’t growing/profitable/whatever…” kind of rationale.
Knock it off. Pity parties and excuse-making manifestos are a poor use of your limited time and energy. Yes, not everything that’s happened in the past is fantastic. Welcome to life on Earth. That’s been true for everyone who’s ever lived. The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is that those who succeed focus their energy and what they’re going to do next.
Pay attention to the conversations you have with your people. Listen to what people say at meetings. Are you talking about the future? Are you talking about what you want your business to be and what steps have to happen in order to get there? Are you talking about your future customers and products and people and marketing and innovation, etc.? Most businesses pay lip service to the future but wallow in the past.
Don’t let that be you. Be conscious of talking about what comes next. Be intentional about learning from the past but not dwelling on it. Be purposeful about your focus. Use your energy on the future.