In the Absence of a Time Machine, Start Where You Are

I was reflecting on recent conversations I have had with former colleagues and potential consulting clients. Often the discussion turned to the past and a reciting of various decisions we wish we had made. If only this….and if only that…we lamented.

Yes, if we knew the recession was coming we should have been more proactive about cutting costs and integrating our marketing functions when it was first recommended. Of course, getting a jump on that new business opportunity two years earlier would have assured us a leadership position today. No doubt, if we had truly focused on understanding customers’ needs and wants better we would be ready to respond more quickly and in a more remarkable way.

Ah, if we only had a time machine.

One of my favorite writers and speakers is Pema Chodron, the American born Buddhist nun and spiritual adviser. One of her excellent books is entitled Start Where You Are, and at its core the book is a reminder to embrace, rather than deny, painful aspects of our lives and develop a fearlessness to move ahead.    It is also a manifesto to deal with the present reality, rather than waste time hoping to re-do our lives.

In my experience, there can be benefit to reflecting on past decisions (and non-decisions!) to see if we can learn how to avoid repeating the same mistakes.  But even more powerful is embracing the reality that–in the absence of a time machine–the past is the past and that all we really have is right now.

Is your organization ready to let go of the past?  Are you ready to start where you are?
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