The “H” word for leaders – History
“There are defeats more triumphant
than victories.” Michel de Montaigne
Personally, my past failures are far more useful and productive than my past successes. Of course, we shouldn’t seek to fail. However, I predict that failing and getting up again has made you who you are today.
“Failure changes for the better,
success for the worse.” Seneca
History is useful in that it helps you understand noble values and lasting priorities. This is true because all personal histories are limited and end with death. In this case, the brevity of your history may teach you to take the long view of life.
Although history unveils noble values and lasting priorities it does not uncover relevant methods. History hinders progress when we cling to methods that worked in the past. Furthermore, history’s magnetism is magnified through repetition. Before long you’re saying, “We’ve always done it that way.” If we aren’t careful, history steals present opportunities.
History and Vision
Most importantly, when crafting a compelling vision, history isn’t a platform and it isn’t a teacher. Vision always breaks with history. History’s grip on our thinking is one reason there is so little visoneering in this world. In this sense, history is more a hindrance than a help to vision casting. The value history offers visoneers is showing what not to do.
“…, true vision is never an arrangement or rearrangement of solutions that have worked in previous circumstances, but springs from the immediacy of today.” (Timothy Butler)
What are your thoughts on the value of history in a leader’s life?
Do you have an “H” word for leaders?
Thanks for this post Dan. There are two issues here where history does and doesn’t have a positive impact.
I agree that learning from personal history and past mistakes forms us into the people we become. This is if we use history in a positive way. However, history could have a negative impact as we may not always want to be the people the past is trying to form us into. Hence our past could be used erroneously to predict our future. Think of the story of the black swan (Nassim Taleb’s book “Fooled by Randomness” is a useful read in this context). An even better way to use our history effectively is to reflect on the past and carefully choose what we need to learn from it to improve. Some parts of our past will draw us backwards rather than forwards. This positive use of our past helps to nourish ourselves as human beings so we grow as friends and family members.
Love your comment and perspective. Thanks for adding value.
In regards to looking into the past. I suggest looking for repetition. If there are repeated points of frustration or failure it’s probably time to wake up and smell the roses.
Best to you,
Heroes, Horror stories, handsome rewards, hollow promises!
Life is what we make of it, never let failure deter your inner desires, let the failure be your guide for improvement
Looks like I missed an opportunity for a lively discussion when I missed “horror stories.” I think leadership horror stories is a future post.
Great seeing you,
History is valuable to a leader IF s/he learns from it and has the courage to change based on the lessons learned. History can be debilitating if the leader is not one to dig into history as the fuel for change.
The pain of history repeats itself when people do not redirect the future based on the past.
Love your alphabet approach Dan … keep it coming! I welcome your insights on my people-skills blog posts as well.
Thanks for your note. I find that facing up to or admitting that the past is “painful” is one of the hardest parts of moving forward.
The think I like best about your website is your videos!
Kate’s sight: http://katenasser.com/
Humility … enough said.
Loving the series, Dan, and the comments as much. Agree with Dr Tom – Humility is my H word. Also Helping – leadership is about service.
Agree with point about learning from failure. It is our greatest teacher, once recognized – gives chance to build resilience, to learn what not to do, to soften the rough edges of ego.
In my life, failure rubs off the rough edges and is part of the desire to move forward.
Thanks for your H’s
Mark blogs at: http://acceleratenow.fastgrowth.biz/
“The Past is a grotesque animal, and in it’s eyes you see how completely wrong you can be”
Great lyrics from a great band. Looking back is beneficial, especially if it’s used as a tool for looking towards the future. History CAN be useful in the right circumstances; especially if it provides room for growth.
I like Dr Tom & Mr MP Friedman’s: Humility…very important…if not the most important.
That’s a butt kickin’ quote! I’m still recovering.
History provides context and strategy. Context is always fixed but strategy changes from time to time. If we stick to tried and tested formula, we might fail, so strategy suitable for one occasion may not fit for another. I believe that history can be used to learn strategy and people. Context exists everywhere but people and strategy changes from place to place and time to time. History also gives you big picture to learn from failure.
The “H” for leaders is Human, history, help, heart, honest, habit, honor and humility. All these H are invaluable and integral part of a leader. First of all, leader should be good human being, he should create history that others follow, he should help needy, he should have heart, he should be honest in his approach and attitude to honor his words, he should have good habit and humility.
As you know, being concise is part of my blog. Man! You nailed concise with, “History provides context and strategy.
Ajay is a featured contributor. Read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/featured-contributors/
Honor…when we have been ‘given’ the opportunity to lead, people are giving you a phenomenal statement of trust and faith. Honor that trust in every action and every word.
Dan – Thank you again for an amazing post. Your daily contributions to the leadership community continue to be of immeasurable value… a history in the making–if you will.
The “H” word I have for leaders is “Humble.” I believe that when a leader recognizes that the History of both failures in which are learned from, and achievements that help establish a platform for continuation, it is then when he or she can honestly help others reach their goals and dreams. It is by the grace of God that I humbly acknowledge that this is all possible. – Geoff
This one is hitting me hard.
All your posting seems thoughtful in its definiton. so I greatly admired them and intend to be part and pacel of it provided you welcome me.
However, the “H” word I have for leaders is “handling” I believe that if leaders constuctively handle the people they govern, well there will be a possibility for prosperity to reign.
Nicely said Senessi. I like your “H” word.