Monday, April 15, 2013

Looking backwards to look forwards

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"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
There are many people who proudly state that they "never look back" or "live always in the present". I've had some mentees of mine make these bold declarations. And that's great. It's also a fine approach to consider for those folks that can't let go of past events in their lives and allow those events to determine (read: limit) their success today.

But if you're someone that has a generally healthy relationship with their past I suggest a different perspective. (You don't have to be proud or comfortable with every single second of your entire life to fit in this category. Just don't be stuck in the past. You'll know if this statement applies to you). I would argue that only looking forwards can be just as unhelpful as only living in the past.

I've realized over the years in my conversations that many people who "never look back" are ones who are tremendously uncomfortable with stuff back there. They are unwilling or unable to deal with certain events. The problem with that is having never dealt with those events in their past they are ill-prepared to deal with similar situations as they pop up in the future.

Our past isn't there just for nostalgia. Nor is it to be used as some sort of imaginary shield from the present.

Our own history is sitting there available to us to be used to:
  1. learn from and continually improve
  2. ensure we don't repeat mistakes
  3. build on past success as a foundation for future success
  4. shape who we are
Just as in driving a car while moving forwards we're regularly checking our rear and side view mirrors for safety's sake.

When I discover one of my mentees to be a "never look back" person I do two things:
  1. Gently probe their relationship with their own past. Is it one of comfort or avoidance? If avoidance then we have plenty to talk about!
  2. Describe the richness that the past holds and encourage them to glance back once in awhile.

"I regret nothing in my life. Even if my past was full of hurt I still look back and smile because it made me who I am today." - Anonymous

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On Roger Ebert's Passing

Roger Ebert. Image from:

Just a quick post on movie critic Roger Ebert's passing. I never considered myself a 'fan' of his per se. But I did admire his tenacity at following his passion despite a host of intimidating challenges not the least of which was his illness.

I will simply re-print a fantastic quote from him below that comes from the end of his memoir "Life Itself":

"‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." - Roger Ebert