It is easy to hang on to the things that happened in the past, some are good and some are bad. Either way they are familiar and comfortable. Moving onto new ideas and new challenges can be scary so we often stay in our comfort zone and avoid change. Unfortunately, without change there is no growth or progress.
The greatest destructive power the past has is when we hang on to past hurts, slights and disappointments. These eat at us and cause more problems now, most likely the issues from lingering anger and resentment are greater than the original problem. The problems of the past are poisoning the present which will lower morale, reduce productivity and impact quality because we are not paying attention to the present.
As leaders we set the example for those around us. If we are letting the past impact the present, our team will as well. It is important to learn from the past and apply it to the present, and then let it go. Every one of us has things we wish we could do differently; the key is to learn from those situations and use the information to create a better future. Show your team how to move forward in a positive manner by how you handle your own past and how you handle their mistakes.
See the parable below for an interesting look at how the past can shape your attitude in the present.
A Story of Two Monks
Once there were two monks traveling when they arrived at a river. At the river they discovered a woman struggling to get across. Without a second thought, the older of the two monks asked the woman if she needed help, then swiftly picked her up and carried her across to the other bank.
It should be understood that for monks, especially in ancient times, any contact with the opposite sex would be strongly frowned upon, if not forbidden. The actions of the older monk greatly troubled the younger monk, who allowed his feelings to fester for several miles while they continued their journey.
Finally, the younger monk confronted the older monk, “How could you have done such a thing? We are not even supposed to be in a woman’s presence, but you touched her, carried her even!”
The older monk calmly replied, “I put that woman down miles ago, back at the river. But you are still carrying her.” The younger monk realized the older monk was indeed correct and they continued on their journey.
How do you keep the past from negatively impacting your present?