Everyone Sees the Pimple First
Blemishes captivate just like the negative past.
The dark past draws you backward into futile conversations that solidify rather than solve. Complaints always focus on the past. Problems pull backward. But, solutions draw forward.
You become what you talk about.
I’ve been thinking about conversation topics. I know better, but I’ve slipped into conversations that spiral around the past. Everyone, it seems, wants to solve the past. I spent years captivated by negative history. It’s easy, sometimes fun, but inevitably futile.
Leaders can drown in complaints, problems, weaknesses, and low performance . Unless you intentionally turn forward, you’re pulled into the negative past; something that can’t be changed, developed, or improved, only built on.
Recurring topics of conversation determine where you go and what you do. Persistently talking about the past translates into repeating it.
Stuck people focus on the past.
Leaders Solve the past by moving into the future. It’s the only way.
Talk about the past with the future in mind, tenaciously.
Rather than focusing on, “Where have we been?” say, “Where are we going?”
Shift from past tense to present and future tense language.
“What are we learning,” is better than, “What did we learn?” The latter takes you back while the former pulls you forward.
“What was done?” is only the beginning component of a, “What’s next?” conversation.
“Next time we’ll …” improves on, “What went wrong?”
Problems and failures are inevitable, even useful. But, don’t focus on the pimple. Step toward solutions or you’ll become what you complain about, a pus-filled volcano waiting to pop. Forward facing speech combined with forward focused action creates your future. Backward facing speech and backward focused action repeats the past.
Develop forward looking ways to speak about the past. Move toward your future not away from your past.
It’s foolish to ignore the past. How do you balance a backward view with a forward orientation?
How can leaders shift conversations from inactive complaints to forward facing action?
I think of all your topics this is my favorite, so much so that I think I’ll print it and put it in my office!!
Here’s to a positive future!
Very graphic illustration, but very effective. I will not forget not to concentrate on the pimple!
I won’t forget to not neglect to say thank you… 🙂
A truly future oriented post. Past teaches us lesson to make future strategy. Past is platform that provide options to open new ways to succeed. I think, we cant neglect past while moving ahead in future. So, we need to learn lesson from our experience in taking decisions. Talking about future is an attitude. Talking about past is also an attitude. And this attitude determines path. I agree with you that we need to find out solutions than to look for problems. But unless we need the problems, we can not get solutions. So, there is close relations between problems and solutions. In fact, they are integrated. So, it is the matter of knowing and understanding it. It is the human nature to see dark side of things first. It is a skill to overcome such tendencies. We need to develop such practices that widens options and look of remedial actions. Problems will be there even after we are not there.
Thank you for joining in again today. I value your contribution..
Here’s what I take with me today, “Problems serve a positive purpose when they are the beginning of a solution.”
Best to you,
We’re all a little guilty of this from time to time.
Thanks for being our Pro/active, Dan.
I need frequent reminders of common truths and principles. Glad to be useful. Thanks for being an encourager.
Liked the post and your saying ‘Leaders Solve the past by moving into the future. It’s the only way.’ Continuous learning and solution-oriented approach are the basic ingredients of successful leaders.
Common people do have a tendency to look at the dark side of life and may have negativity in their thoughts and shall take time to move forward with required confidence. They are likely to adopt to a compromised mode and will have basic inhibitions of not getting started for any new venture.
It’s the positive attitude and the courage to act will determine the future success for those who look at things deeply and do not get merely influenced with exterior outlook.
Dear Dr. Asher,
I’m thankful you joined the conversation. I love that you added, “the courage to act,” to this discussion.
Courage give action to talk.
Best to you,
People find it easier to talk about the past as they are attached to it by some form of emotion. When collectively reflecting on past issues in order to move into the future an element of control, direction and projection need to be utilized.
The pimples should be replaced by the current and future goals. Use a good visual tool, either flash cards or flash technology on a computer screen PROJECTED onto a wall ……. show what was and what will be ……
The brain works in pictures, so replace out the old with something new to engage it’s thoughts processes. It won’t work for everyone, but you can’t please all of the people, so keep as many in the boat with you as you can. Some paddling, some steering, some cleaning up and removing water, some feeding the others, and try to always have someone in the crow’s nest, looking ahead for danger and new lands ahead …….. Have a good day sailors …… 😉
Thanks for coming back and adding value.
Love the picture component of your comment. Leaders paint pictures! In order to draw people toward a future we must show them something to lean toward.
People with a picture of the future find it easier to let go of the past.
I really enjoyed this post today. The past is only useful for how we use it to go forward. It reminds me of how we drive our cars. It is useful to know what is behind and around us via rear-view mirrors and windows, but ultimately it is just information we use in making the best decisions about how best to move forward.
Leaders don’t often have the luxury of knowing exactly where their vision will go, so the best they can do is describe it and explain it with the language and visuals of the places they’ve already been.
Thanks for reminding us to take our focus off of the pimples…the potential is so much more interesting any way!
John Cleese has made some really entertaining videos on creativity from a self proclaimed dis-organised person.
Paying attention to your verbs can be a good thing, not easy but good to do.
Are you stating ‘facts’ in the past tense? “I have always been”…well that was then, this is now. Or are you stating ‘facts’ as permanent, never changing? “I am not artistic”…wow, you can predict the future!? If so, slip me those lottery numbers now!
That prediction game can go into the future too…”I will always be like this”…which is metaphysically absurd, we will never always be anything–only that we might (mis)perceive some level of continuity or consistency. What ‘we may strive for’ might be more accurate. That false net of permanence has holes in it…in case you didn’t notice.
Might also be time to bring Marshall Goldsmith’s ‘feedforward’ into the mix. Definitely keeps you thinking ahead rather than dwelling/ruminating in the past.
Of course the whole pimple thing can take you down this tangential path…don’t look at the pimple…”We aren’t supposed to talk about the bloody mole”, or “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” Yeah, but….;) Smile, no time like the present. Oops, too late!
This was a fantastic post and the picture set the stage perfectly!
I work on and just started to blog about projects. Your blog and especially this post are an inspiration as I’m encouraging people on projects to find what can go right vs only thinking about what can go wrong. Risk assessment can too often address only problems and barriers. You have to identify risks. But if you fixate on those pimples you miss all sorts of opportunities to put creative effort into visualizing how beautiful things can turn out and how to get there. So I blog about finding what can go right. Thanks for the affirmation.
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