The Destruction of Potential and Joy
Leave the good ole days in the past. Enjoy memories but never try recreating experiences.
Some years back, my wife and I went to an amusement park with another couple. It was the perfect storm of fun. The day was perfect. The crowds were small. We smiled, laughed, and played till it hurt. I feel nostalgic thinking about it. I love remembering, but trying to recapture that experience insults the present.
Warm fuzzy “I remember when conversations” are filled with misconceptions that drag you backwards into futile frustrating pursuits that always disappoint.
Build your future don’t recreate your past. Treat history like a platform not a magnet.
History is useful in that it helps you:
- Understand noble values. Your history is filled with noble thinking and behaving. Think back to behaviors that made you proud. Embrace the intent while employing present methods and leveraging present opportunities. Wishfully looking back always frustrates and never brings out your best.
- Identify enduring priorities. Think back to your greatest successes. Repeat enduring principles that matter.
- Relish points of joy. Let joys from the past propel you toward new joys. Dreams of recreating old joy destroys potential for new joy.
Although history unveils noble values, enduring priorities, and points of joy, it doesn’t uncover relevant methods. History hinders progress when we cling to methods that once worked. Furthermore, history’s magnetism is magnified through repetition. Before long you’re saying, “We’ve always done it that way.”
Recreating history blinds and eventually destroys your leadership.
Vision may build on the past but radical vision always breaks with it. Think major movements like the Protestant Reformation or the Civil Rights Movement.
Successful leaders always create the future.
How can leaders leverage the past without being trapped in it?
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Hi Dan. Another great post. Let’s not recreate, relive or regret the past. Let’s reflect, respect and learn from it. Also, sometime we have to let go of the past and move on.
Great quote; “Even if you’re on the right rack, you will get run over if you’re just sitting there”
On another note, I came up with an acronym for LEADERS. Let me know your thoughts.
Take CARE. Al
I love well turned expression .. “not recreate, relive, or regret” The three r’s pack a punch.
You LEADERS acronym captures 7 essential leadership behaviors. It would be fun to see what others can do with LEADERS.
I really like that, Al. You are quite good at acronyms. I am sure I will see it pop up again.
Many of the acronyms that I have seen overlook the development feature that is so important to making future leaders, which is vital for perpetuation of any organization.
Good post as always, Dan.
We can never re-create the good times of the past. And, all too often we stay mired in the bad times of the past.
If we remain open and observant, we can learn from everything and everyone that touches our lives. But those lessons have no meaning if we don’t learn them and actually apply them, rather than trying to re-create them.
The past is full of valuable lessons. These lessons and experience should serve us as we go foward and continue to create a bright present, and supply us with even brighter prospects for the future.
You add power when you bring up how we remember the bad times.
Running away from bad times is only slightly better than trying to recreate the past. It’s much better to run toward the future than away from the past.
Love you insights,
PS.. thanks for the tweets!
Your mention of the Protestant Reformation this morning is very interesting. I have always thought of Martin Luther as an early out-of-the-box thinker (sorry for the buzzword cliché so early on a Saturday). He had the same education and tools as everyone else inside the Church. But instead of clinging to the traditions of the past, he tried to make things better for both the customers and the employees of the Church. He is a hero of mine. Thank you for reminding me of how these great moments apply to my own life.
The ability to be surround by water from birth and still see it is incredible. When it comes to transformational vision, courage is a major factor.
We can see a new future but it takes courage to actually reach for it.
Thanks for adding to the conversation,
great and meaningful post — my father at 78 has worked to create more memories similar to the events he loves to tell stories about. It has never worked for him. I also tried to recreate a fire side chat that a man gave to youth, it did not work either. Funny how we can easily understand that wonderful memories cannot be recreated and at the same time hang dearly onto structure of the past that will not work tomorrow.
Great seeing you today.
I know exactly what you mean. You’re making me think that its better to find new ways to find the end results we so enjoyed in the past. The big issues like connection, support, influence, and service bubble to the surface.
Thank you for your insights,
As a history guy who works in marketing communications and therefore has to look at trends and is growing into a leadership role, I loved this post. The best line:
“Recreating history blinds and eventually destroys your leadership.”
Jack Welch had it right when he said, “Change before you have to.” Would seem to me that great leaders are in a constant role of anticipating change and adapting to it BEFORE it happens.
My own experience fills the quote you enjoyed with meaning. It’s amazing how noble a backward facing approach to life can sound. And, it’s tragic how ineffective it is.
The controversial jack Welch nails it again!
Thank you for adding to the conversation.
I agree that history unveils nobles values and priorities. These provides platform to understand what did not work. I also agree that the method that worked in the past is not is sure key to success. I believe that history provides context and strategy. And strategy keeps on changing depending upon the contexts. When I lag in my effort, I look back the moments that created me. And this reminds my strenght and courage. I think leaders can leverage the past by focussing on strenghts that worked in odd circumstances. Circumstances are great teacher to leverage the past. I strongly believe that circumstances shape people. Values provides right direction and committed effort determines time for success.
Thank you for sharing your comment.
The middle of your comment sticks with me. “When I lag … I look back on the moments that created me.”
For me that says, stay true to your purpose. Remember your meaning and place in this world.
Best to you,
“trying to recapture that experience insults the present.”
Interesting thought. I definitely can err on the side of nostalgic stuck-ness. Thanks for the reminder to keep moving forward.
When you are driving to the future, the past is your rear-view mirror. It is a good idea to give it a glance from time to time. When you stop, to make a turn, peer into that mirror for a little longer. In business, you can’t win the race to the future without reflecting on the road you’ve travelled.
History as a platform is a great approach to creating change. It’s way to acknowledge what you want to keep doing (lots or little), then define what you want to be different (lots or little). The key is to start doing the different things right away so that you can rise above the platform and make progress.
I think if you honor the past, for what is was and what it meant, that’s how you can create the platform. My husband and I are pastor’s and with church members, at times it can be difficult to move into a vision of a new future. Older members are sometimes easily offended at the idea of change and we have found that when we honor the past and connect it to the reasons for the vision; they most often come alongside and actually support and propegate the vision and goals for the future. Honor the past, don’t repeat it.
Dan – I coined a term for this … its called ‘Nostaljihad’.
Its declaring holy war on bad memories … while history is useful and necessary however we cannot let it drag us into the past.
So ‘Nostaljihad’ … declaring holy war on bad memories…. 😉
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