As a leader, it is very easy to get caught up thinking about the future. It is easy to ask questions like, “When is the next opportunity going to come? When is our product going to be a hit? When is the next big breakthrough going to happen? When will I get the next promotion? When is progress going to happen like I want it to?”
It is also easy to focus on the past. When thinking about your past it is easy to remember things better than they really were. Often people think about their “glory days” and reminisce as if they wish they could go back and stay in that time.
As you think about the future and reflect on the past, it is easy to lose sight of the present.
I heard a quote from Gordon B. Hinckley that explained the importance of living in the present. He said:
I don’t worry too much about the future, and I don’t worry very much about the past. The past is gone, and you can’t change it, you can’t correct it. The future, you can anticipate, but you can’t necessarily do very much about it. It is the present you have to deal with. Reach out for every good opportunity to do what you ought to do. (Hinckley)
Now lets take a deeper look at the quote.
Learn From the Past
I like that the quote says, “The past is gone, and you can’t change it, you can’t correct it.” Too many people live in the past and can’t let go of their glory days. The past is gone and it is time to move forward.
Instead of getting stuck in the past, learn from it. Reflect on your mistakes, challenges, and successes. Then do everything you can to learn from them. Identify the progress you made after each setback and the experience you gained from the successes. Study the actions you took that led to each success and failure. Then study why the results turned out as they did.
As you focus on learning from the past, you will gain insight on the results of your actions.
Prepare for the Future
The next part of the quote says, “The future, you can anticipate, but you can’t necessarily do very much about it.” This portion of the quote can easily be taken out of context. Since the future will always be “the future,” you can’t do anything about it. You can only live in the present and prepare for the future.
Look at what you are doing today and determine if you are doing what you need to do right now to have the future you envision. If you can confidently say you are doing the right things to obtain your envisioned future, then you are on the right track. If, however, you can’t say that, change your actions to align with your goals for the future you envision.
Lead in the Present
You only have control over your actions right now! Lead in the present by focusing your efforts on what’s within your control. Don’t waste your time worrying or fretting about things that are outside your control. Instead, take advantage of every moment to get the most out of life.
If you are worrying about something, you can do one of two things. Determine what is within your control and take actions to eliminate the worry. For those things outside your control, just let them go. You are only hurting yourself by worrying about them since they are outside your control.
Remember that you can only control yourself and YOUR actions. You cannot control others or their actions, so don’t let it take your valuable energy. Do your very best to make good use of the present by making good choices.
In conclusion, learn from the past, prepare for the future, but LIVE in the present! Make the best use of your time right now, so you can have the life you want today AND in the future. As you do that, you will improve your life and the lives of others.
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