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Welcome to NCM's Up to Speed Blog

Are You Living in the Past or the Present? Part 1

Michael-Lynch
Written By: Michael Lynch
Posted on June 20, 2019

While it is physically impossible to go back to yesterday, mentally we can travel back in time. For many reasons, this is an important place to go. From videos, newspapers, and books, to online resources and social media, the past is easily accessible. Nostalgia is a very powerful thing. Unfortunately, for many people, the past is where they reside. They are over-indexing the experiences that have come and gone, to the point of ruining their present and preventing them from a spectacular future. The experiences of yesterday are being re-run over and over and the narratives of their career performance and personal lives are not changing. What happened yesterday has become a great excuse for why today can't be any better. They are stuck, imprisoned by history, and spending their energy on replaying the same old movie.

Regardless of what happened yesterday, what you choose to do today will impact you now and going forward. 

You can not change anything about the past. That great revenue month for the service department, or the challenging month your variable ops teams just experienced, has come and gone and it is in the history books. It took place, and no matter how much you try, you can’t change it. What can change is you! You can impact the current month and the months that follow by modifying your actions.  

Learning From The Past

I would only consider visiting the past for one reason and one reason only, to learn. When you mentally revisit the past, go with the perspective of learning and seek out two avenues. 

First: Search for what worked, what resonated, and what actions and behaviours within your control contributed to your success. As you reflect on this avenue, it is critical to document what you recall (either on paper or digitally). After this exercise, your success-creating ingredients will be right in front of you. Allowing you to share a proven recipe to repeat, multiply, and enhance your business going forward.

Second: Look at what didn't work. Again, document the actions and behaviours that caused you to miss your sales targets. Be sure to include all the energy and impact your actions had on your relationships that caused strife and strain. Include the choices you made around health and wellness, especially if it had a negative impact on you. It’s critical to capture these moments too. You will soon be looking at a list of set-backs that are great lessons and guides for what not to do from this point forward. 

Create the Future You Want To See

Your actions tell the real story and today can be a brand-new chapter. With the past as a guide, you now have two clear sets of behaviours and actions. A set of successful choices that you may choose to continue from this point forward and a set of actions and energy that you may want to stop performing. By removing what doesn't work and replacing that use of time and energy with what does work, more success will follow.

So many people continue to make excuses about time (and the lack of it). Once again, a tell-tale sign that you are living in the past. If you are disciplined in stopping what doesn't work and replacing it with more of what is working, then you will be creating more time. There is enough time each day, there are just far too many people who waste it complaining about the past.

The only way to get what you want is to do the necessary work to achieve it. You may not love the process, but you will love the outcome.  

Focus on What You Can Control

As you reflect on the past, you may have identified reasons outside of your control that caused the success or caused the failure. Look at what you wrote down and cross out anything that is not within your control. You may even need to re-do the entire exercise with the guideline of personal ownership, because you need to determine what you did that worked and what you did that failed.

Taking personal ownership for everything is paramount for your future success. Blaming the month, blaming your co-workers, blaming the economy, blaming the clock, blaming your family, blaming in general does not serve you. In fact, blaming something outside of your control sends a message to everyone around you that you are not able to take responsibility for your future success. Laying blame is another great sign that you are living in the past because in order to lay blame, something has already happened, and you are utilizing past experiences to justify why the results are the way they are.

If you can relate to this personally, I would encourage you to consider changing the amount of time you spend in the past. Only your current actions can influence your desired results and only you can write a new chapter in your story. As the leader of a team, you know all too well the team members who are stuck in the past and sharing the following words with them may serve as an adjustment to where they are spending their time and energy.


Check back next week for the follow-up to this blog. Have a time when you used the past to create positive change going forward? Let us know in the comments below.

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