How to Focus on the Future while Evaluating the Past

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Stop saying “should have,” after projects are completed. Start saying “next time.” The former is backward-facing and the latter is forward-facing.

Should have’s correct the past; something impossible to do. When you say “we should have” you belittle past wisdom and efforts.

Should-have-leaders honor their critics; something that creates more critics because you get more of what you honor.

Next-time-leaders honor the efforts and learning of the team. They build a higher platform for future initiatives.

A note on criticism versus evaluation:

Critics frequently don’t participate but judge what was done. Critics sit on the sidelines and seldom offer useful suggestions because they are ignorant of everything that was planned and done. They tear down. If the best you can do is point out failures in others, you’re probably failing yourself.

Participants, on the other hand, offer insightful evaluations that create improvements. They establish platforms that enhance and build the future.

Bonus tip:

Say, “What worked” and “What didn’t work” rather than “What went wrong.” The former acknowledges sincere effort. The latter is negative; it belittles participants.

Momentum:

“Should have” ties you to the past and expresses defeatist attitudes. “Next time” presses into the future and maintains momentum; something all successful leaders do.

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How do you evaluate past performance while maintaining forward-facing momentum?

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