remember the past
Photo credit: © meehan

There’s not much value in dwelling on the past!

Unless you’re going to learn something from it.

The keys to remembering the past in a proactive way are:

  • Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Acknowledge them and learn from them.
  • Learn from the times you were frozen with fear. Your need for perfection makes you procrastinate so much that you make time your worst enemy. Remember, when you procrastinate about a decision, it means you’ve already made a decision and it is usually an unwise one.
  • Let go of past opportunities you feel you squandered. And look for the new opportunities that still lay ahead.

In general, the best thing to learn from the past is what went wrong and then vowing to never repeat the same mistake. Being in business demands you learn from the holes you fell into and always take calculated risks by measuring the gain vs. the pain.

Another way to unleash the value of remembering the past is to recall when things went right or even great. These recollections embolden you to use your past successes to springboard you forward. They bolster your confidence so you’re ready and willing to take on the next business opportunity and make it work out.

You have more power than you think to make any risk you take work. If you are willing to take on the accountability, the flexibility and the selective memory that gives you the confidence to be aggressive, then you can act with speed and courage.


Visualize success

Watch great athletes in action. Michael Jordan couldn’t make the game-winning shots at the end if he dwelled on the shots he missed in the first quarter. Visualizing success and what you want to have happen is something many of the best athletes train themselves to do.

We can learn by letting go of what didn’t happen in the past and focus on what we do want to happen in the present. We also can do ourselves a world of good by spending solo time visualizing how our actions can garner the type of success we crave. More often than not, we must first see it in our mind’s eye before we can make it come to fruition. Try it and see if you don’t agree.

Another helpful approach as you move forward is to set clear objective goals and put them into writing so they become tangible. The goal is to do your research ahead of time. Explore what the worst-case scenario could be and weigh the upside potential. When you’re done, act based upon a trust of successes in the past and learn to move more quickly.

If you’re fully committed, you can make it work. However, know where the exit points are in your planning and how to execute them should it become necessary. I share this analogy with clients, “The time to look for the fire exit is when you enter the room … not when you need to because there’s a fire.”

That’s right. I’m the guy you see on the airplane actually reading the safety card!

I’m cautious but not fearful. I’ve got a depth of experience from having a selective memory that is more attuned to when I took a risk and it worked out. I take comfort in knowing I do my homework first and trust I’ll make lemons into lemonade.

In all my business ventures over the years, I’ve learned these three points:

  1. Do something, learn something and make money. That feels great!
  2. Do something, learn something and break even. That’s OK.
  3. Do something, learn something but lose money. That stinks.

Making money is still my favorite. Breaking even is still OK. But I have to admit I learned my best lessons when I lost money.

How did losing money teach me anything? When I lost money, I would sit down and revisit what went right, what went wrong and what would I do differently the next time.

The reality is I learned many valuable lessons from things not working out.

These temporary failures ultimately cleared the way for me to make my biggest strides in my life and my career. The reason is I learned to take these setbacks as a learning experience rather than beating myself up. I realized the project was a failure, not me. That strengthened me to learn from the experience and not use it as an excuse to get overly cautious about pursuing new opportunities.

Remembering the past and not dwelling on it is where you, too, will create the proper launching pad for the big successes that await you.