Tag Archives: Past

Is the Past Impacting Your Present?

MonksIt 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?

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Filed under Change Management, Leadership

Going Home Again

Several years ago I was at another factory within the company for a meeting.  As I walked down a hall on a break I saw their factory manager coming towards me.  I had known him somewhat propbably five years earlier.  He called me by name and asked if I remembered him.  Needless to say I was stunned that he recalled me and that he took the time to stop and say hi to me.  My opinion of his leadership went way up.

At times the world is a very small place and you may cross paths with people from your past.  When this happens do you cringe because you left things a little raw or are you excited to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while?  Hopefully, you are in the second group.  However, there are times when you have to face people you never thought to see again.  Here are some tips for what to do when your past comes back to meet you.

  • Embrace the opportunity to see people you once knew and worked with on a daily basis.  You’ve moved on to a better place and you can reflect on the things that got you to where you are today.
  • Smile!  If you appear to be happy to see folks again they will see it and it will help them be happy to see you again.
  • Be interested in what’s new with them.  People want to know they matter to others so make them matter.
  • Stay away from gloating about the great things that have happened since you moved on.  The people you are with may not have had the same good luck. 

The best way to make it easier to revisit people from the past in new situations is to leave under the best possible conditions.  Keep from burning bridges by leaving gracefully.  This can be done by doing a few simple things.

  1. Focus on the future opportunities.  When asked about why you are leaving you need to focus on the new opportunities that await you.
  2. Avoid bad mouthing.  If you may cross paths with the people you currently work with then you should not say negative things about the people or the company you are leaving.  You never know when the words you say will come back to you.
  3. Be courteous to everyone.  Whether you are leaving for a better opportunity or to pursue a dream be nice as you depart.  Treat people the way you want to be treated if you were being left behind. 
  4. Finish what you can.  Complete everything you can to leave a clean slate for however will get to cover your responsibilities when you leave. 

If you leave well then you really can come home again.  You can never predict when you may cross paths with your past, so make the effort to leave positive impression on those you leave behind. 

If you left under circumstances beyond your control, then when you meet again, be positive and kind.  Even when the way you were treated badly, it is so nice to know you can be better to them than they were to you.  Let any discomfort be due to their actions not yours.  Taking the high road will lead you to the next better place.

Going back to places and people you’ve known in the past can be fun and enjoyable when you decide to make it a positive experience.  If you do it well people will think even more highly of you now that you are gone, because you have class.

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Filed under Change Management, Leadership