Friday, September 23rd, 2016
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” – Steve jobs.
If you’re a professional with some responsibility, your focus is always on the future—calculating the next strategic business move, the next goal or benchmark to be achieved, the next great innovation. Looking ahead is how you are introduced to opportunities and possibilities, and it helps you avoid pitfalls or being caught off guard.
However, looking forward can only achieve so much because no one can completely prepare for the unforeseen. For example, an illness or a tragic accident may take a business leader completely by surprise. A major unexpected event can force a person to take a look at life’s trajectory, and help them think differently going forward.
Looking back can be extremely effective. It’s a lot like using your rear-view mirror when you’re driving. It’s necessary, but if you spend too much time looking back, you won’t see what’s in front of you. The ideal is balancing the two perspectives.
While dwelling on the past isn’t healthy, learning from it can be. You can’t expect things to change or improve if you’re stuck in the same patterns. Look back and see what you did in the past to land you in the position you’re in now. Use that information to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
When you look back to see what you did wrong, don’t forget to also examine what you did right. Look for your successes and what you did to achieve them. Build on your positive experiences in the past to create more positive experiences in the future.
Summing-up: When looking back, it’s always important to not get stuck in the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” trap. Instead, glance in the rearview mirror just long enough to ensure you’re moving forward in the right direction.