Looking Forward or Looking Back? How Do You Go Through Life?
When driving the road of life, business or personal, do you spend more time looking through the windshield or more time looking through the rear view mirror?
Wow eh?!? Pretty out there for just a lowly buyer of a small Western Canadian retail chain, who was born and raised in the Kootenay’s, to ask eh? Wasn’t sure if I kept a few of the brain cells in tact did ya!? 😉
What else would I do on a bumpy plane ride to Toronto, as I tune out the world with my iPad cranking the tunes, listening to them with Bose noise canceling headphones!! The only way to travel man!!
Think about the question. I am sure you have been been asked this one almost verbatim or you have thought about it while at school, work, or at play.
We are a creature that just loves to dwell on the past and spend a lot of time doing that while business, school, the game, or life just passes us by.
I hear it all of the time in my office, especially since many of my categories have gone through a tonne of changes over the last number of years. Whether that be the grocery and or health categories, and whether the changes were because of me initiating them, or those of the vendors, or industry.
Coversation will typically start with; “I remember when my business with you was….” or “when we used to do it this way….” or “what did we do last week, month or year….”.
All fair questions and comments, and yes, those who do not study and understand the past are doomed to repeat it! We need to know “what we did, so as to either not make the same mistakes, or to see if there is a better way of doing it next time. Got it. But really, who cares?!?
The key, to me, is always the same; “those without vision, those who lack a new idea, or any ideas, or any concepts to try something new, are equally doomed to repeat the past!”. What else could happen. Really nowhere to go….
I find it worrisome when in meetings with my collegues, or my vendors, my friends and or family, and the entire conversation is dealing with what already happened. How much you bought, how well you did, what happened, what if you had done this or that etc….. All great to talk about, but only if the continuing conversation takes all of that great insight and does something with it. Spending more time on the forecast, the porjection, the direction, the changes that you will enact, to ensure at bare minimum, at least a different result; yes, we are hoping for a “better” result as opposed to just different (although, that would be different ;-D)
Oh ya, I can see you all now saying, “that’s not us, that would be silly, we don’t do that”!!! BS my friends!
I see it all of the time in daily business and personal life. We talk the talk and we don’t walk the walk.
The friend that was broke last year, last month, and last week, is still broke. Has a great new car (another one), wicked clothing, and is still drinking those lattes every AM; but like him, I can’t understand why he is in still in financial trouble! The student who writes his 10th term paper the same way they wrote the first crappy one, and is amazed at the latest crappy mark; how could that be!?!? Buy or advertise that item that did not sell well last year or the year before, and stare in amazement and wonderment at the results, while always asking yourself, “What happened?!?”. Or coming into the market dead last with that “new” item and again wondering why the success is not as good as the guys who had first: puzzling is it not!?!
We are all guilty of this. We assume or maybe just hope that things done the same way as before will net out a different result. Why do we think that? Is it that we at really that thick or is it just lazy thinking, or is it…..?? I wish I knew what motivates us to do this, but the fact is that we do, and we see and do it all of the time!
Maybe it is just easier than making a change? Making the change, or suggesting it, puts us “out there”. For many, I will have to assume, that provides a huge amount of discomfort and tension. Who wants to put their “privates” on the line!? The change will definatley create work and effort. Maybe, we just dont want to, can’t, or dont have the abilities or resources to make the change. Again, I really don’t know what it is specifically, but from personal experience, all of the above would be my answer for the times that I fall into those situations.
Looking through the rear view mirror is easy. Requires a limited skill set and limited resources. You really don’t need to do much. You just watch. Kinda like watching the movies, looking at pictures, or say reading a book. Each takes little effort to do, limited time commitment (in that it is set, a movie is 2 hours and the book is 400 pages and maybe you buzz through 100 pics on flickr for example), little imagination (some is required, but it’s not a blank slate, someone has already given you something to work with) and there is very limited risk on your part (unless you fall asleep while your wife watches that special movie that was “made for both of you” – that was hypothetical by the way). You are’nt going to fail. It’s all passive. You did not have to do anything except show up. The road was already paved, the route drawn, someone else drove and you could watch without doing much. All the wrok was done in the past.
Very different from being the driver and having to figure out where you want to go, how to get there, having to negotiate all of the obstacles thrown your waThemis yate are the movie director, the author, and the photographer. You vision is what others see, feel and follow. No free ride here. All forward thinking. Looking at life front forward. Noting the past, and making the future happen.
Its great being the former, but without the latter, where are you? where are we?
My question is, “Do you stay content watching, being a passive spectator, critizing or contemplating what could have been? Worrying about where you were? Wondering why things played out the way they did?”
In business, do you rest on your laurels, or do you celebrate them and move forward so as to create the next batch for others to celebrate?
In life, do you stare in wonderment at your bridge being washed away, or do you find another way across the river. When the landscape changes, do you want to rebuild it to the way it was, or do you help build the new vision and see where it takes you? Do you worry about the potential of failing, missing the turn in the road, maybe ending up in the wrong spot; or do you embrace the road, let the wind blow
in the hair (if you still have some), and go for the ride and figure to yourself that it can’t be any worse than where you were, so let’s go (remember, you can always go back)!!
Not everyone has the skill set to be the driver. Probably not a great idea to have to many drivers anyway!! However, anyone can look in the rear view mirror and critique the past, or worry about it, and equally so, everyone can at least “assist” in making the future, assiting the driver as it were (that does not mean back seat driving either!) in getting to where they want to be. You may not want to own the direction or vision, but you for sure can be a part of it and make it real.
It’s not maybe in your comfort zone, but bust out, even if just a little bit. The trip is much better if you participate!
Think about it!
Ciao for now, @kootenayborn