Five Secrets to Escaping the Past
Your job is moving people into the future not recreating the past. Tensions emerge when leaders pull toward the future and followers cling to the past.
Clinging to the past is losing your future.
People cling to the past because they:
- Don’t feel heard. People who consistently bring up past situations are saying, “Please listen to me.”
- Need validation. People who don’t feel heard feel put down. Validated people courageously move forward. Everyone else waits for validation.
- Fear the future. Even if it’s painful, the certain past is more comfortable than an uncertain future.
- They aren’t convinced your plan for the future is actually better.
Help people reach for the future by:
- Establishing certainty based on people first and plans second. Do people trust your leadership? If not, forget reaching for the future. The future is always about people. Do people respect the team and each other?
- Listening rather than arguing or solving concerns about the past and future. Say, “I hear you,” without saying, “But.” No one listens to you until they feel you’ve listened to them.
- Validating the perceptions and concerns you hear. Say, “Tell me your concerns,” and then ask, “What’s important about that?” Leaders who reject the concerns of others create adversarial relationships. Ask the second question.
- Engage people in creating the plan. People don’t doubt the plan they create. They doubt yours. If you expect people to be engaged, engage them.
- Learning from failure. Your responses to past failures establish boldness or caution. Did you correct the past or focus on the future when failure occurred? Correcting the past puts people down. Ask, “What did we learn,” or, “Who will we adapt next time?”
How can leaders help followers escape the past?
Great topic Dan.
AA Big Book says resentment is our number one offender.
Resenting past events can either be positive or negative resensing.
If I am on the train track, train barreling down towards me, it makes no difference if I am out of the moment worrying about the past. Remembering something great from the past or doing the same projecting into the future.
Not in the moment train is gonna turn me into rail hamburger.
Fear only presents in two ways. The simpler the better, right?
I either fear I will not GETwhat I think I need to survive OR I fear I will LOSE what I have told myself I need to survive. All fears boil down to those two in my experience.
So what can a Leader do? Get their own house in order by understanding how THEY work. Inside job.
Once they do that they understand what makes themselves tick. Others tick the same way.
Then Leaders have to sacrifice their TIME to let the folks who follow them know the Leader Dude or Dudess has their back. Then trust emerges and Leaders Lead and Followers Follow.
Great topic thanks Dan!
Party on Wayne!!!
SP back to oxytocin generating!!!
Thanks Scott. I’m glad you added the idea that leaders have the back of others. That behavior/attitude helps people reach into the future.
“Listen to me”…. that is powerful on many levels and expressed in so many ways.
Thanks Vicki. YOu could say that leading is listening.
This reminds me what happens during a leadership change and how hard it is for a team to move on from one way of doing things (especially if the previous leader was well respected and loved) to a new way of doing things. Then listening and asking the right questions becomes even more important. Thanks for this post Dan.
Thanks Diana. I hadn’t thought about the transition of leaders but you made a great application. Here’s to a great weekend.
I’m saving this under “Change Management Guidelines”, for future reference / discussions when I consult.
(I do technical training / content development for large corporations who are switching to new software systems or upgrading older ones. Change management is an important part of the process, but unfortunately, one that is often overlooked. It can make the difference between a successful implementation and employee buy-in, or resistance and failure. Too often the burden falls on trainers to “sell” the new system in class, which is very late in the cycle, and not as effective as early overviews, involvement, and discussions.)
Your article clearly explains why this is so important, and how to begin the process. Thank you for a well-thought-out explanation. You’ve clearly “been there, done that”.
Sr. Oracle Training Consultant
This couldn’t better describe the lives of so many young people striving for success.
I live in Austin, TX where I feel there are proportionately more young, self-employed entrepreneurs than in most cities. After speaking with many of them, I noticed how forward thinking they are. They think ‘possibilities,’ not ‘what if,’ or ‘listen to me.’ I believe that mindset is a learned habit, and it takes practice. I sometimes catch myself thinking about the past, and about the what ifs. That is a HUGE barrier.
I believe, embrace the past (good and bad), learn from it, then put it away and move on. Look forward, and think ‘possibilities.’
James if you have never heard of Peter Diamandis in my opinion you would love just about everything he says!!!
Talk about forward thinking!!!!
His talk on Youtube called Abundance is amazing. Bold the name of his new book.
His Singularity University is a place I hope to go one day!!!!
Anyways an open mind is not just a youth thingy and helps any person who cultivates one.
Take care and if you have not heard of Simon Sinek he is great too!! He just released a new book on building cultures in the workplace.
He has the 2nd or 3rd most popular tedtalk is a fellow at the rand corporation and a professor at Columbia. His understanding of people and why the reasons they do what they do is extremely enlightening and insightful.
Anyway take care and generate as much oxytocin as you can!!
Want to understand that watch Simon on Vimeo. Leaders Eat Last. Free and the name of his new book
Thank you, Dan, and congratulations to you on your very helpful and pragmatic blog. I am a new subscriber, and an old, retired medical guy who reads management insights for my young academic daughter who is Principal of two schools having issues with her teaching staff to go beyond what’s required to what’s possible.
Her staff is wonderful and they’ve risen all the way to the “glass ceiling.” As perhaps you well know, the extra mile is measured in inches, and I believe as you well said both fear and the past have gripped them to this “can’t go any further” mode.
However, your suggestions are just what the doctor ordered. Their past and their fears must be addressed. And it’s up to my daughter to do that. That what’s been missing and how she’s been remiss, and why she’s been frustrated and unhappy. Thank you.
Nearly everything you say just clicks right into place for me. This time, you make me remember that natural leaders are those who listen and respect people’s ideas thoughts and troubles and expressing an understanding before attempting to advise or solve. Also, our individual experiences, truths and priorities are unique therefore the methods and timescales in which we move forward, are unique. When speaking about a problem, my instinct is immediately to give advice, and often enjoy trying to knit together a plan of action with/for the person, and I’m enthusiastic about helping because I feel I can see the BIG picture and what are true priorities – but I hold myself back because I feel I don’t have the ONLY solution, just one (‘mine’, from my vision, not theirs), and it might not necessarily be the right path for that person. What do you think?
Create an inspiring vision that’s exciting and reduces pain. Describe a future that can’t wait to help create. Ensure they can picture themselves as a vital part of the plan.
This is a great post that reminds me once again that moving people into the future away from the past depend on whether or not they are confident that you have first listened and heard what it is they are saying. Employees need to feel respected, valued and that what they have to share matters. Also if they cannot picture themselves in the vision, no matter how inspiring it is, then that becomes a problem.
I love this site! I agree that listening is key to the kind of leadership that builds leadership and fosters creativity. I’ve found theatrical improvisation to be a wonderful tool for all involved. Often leaders don’t want to listen (understandably) because, as you said, listening can lead to uncertainty. In order to fully listen, you have to not know, and that is hard, especially for leaders. So, improvisation, with its emphasis on building with offers (saying “yes, and”), gives people a way to not know and do something with what people are saying (you can get skilled at this). It goes beyond active listening — to listening in a way that creates something new. I find that people feel most listened to when you create something with what they say.
Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers.