“Don’t Look Back”: Focus on Your Windshield, Not Your Rear View Mirror!

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I’ve met many people – including CEOs and other top executives – who seem to live in the past. Whether it’s regretting a mistake or wishing for the way things used to be, it’s a negative source of energy that will drain you and your company.

Mistakes happen, but we learn from them and we move on. At least, that is what we should be doing. Wishing you or your company had done something differently isn’t going to change what you can do in the future to improve your situation.

Or maybe your business changes, your entire industry changes, or the economy changes in a big way (e.g. The Great Recession) and you haven’t adjusted to the new normal. Today, more than ever, a disruptive technology or business model like Uber, AirBnB, Amazon, etc., can make even the best CEO or executive yearn for the days of old. But if you’re sticking with what you’ve always done and not rolling with the changes then you’re going to be run over by the competition.

Get an outside perspective

Sometimes you don’t or can’t realize something’s wrong. However, someone from the outside might see what you can’t. That’s why joining a peer group is a great idea, because we may not even realize we’re the source of negative energy.

If you don’t have an advisor or peer group to tell you what the signs are to look for when there’s no excitement in your office, then you might want to look hard in the mirror and realize the problem is you. Your employees are looking to you for leadership. Even when you don’t know they’re looking at you, they’re looking at you.

Take ownership

It’s bad enough if employees are down in the dumps, but if you’re the CEO, everyone’s feeding off your energy. A fellow CEO once told me he was having a hard time going to work, as his employees were actually BORING…no zest for anything!

I told him it’s evident he’s “showing up” differently than he was in the past.  He has minimal or even negative energy, therefore his employees reflect that same energy back to him.  “Frankly,” I told him, “it’s you.” Once a CEO realizes how their energy affects their employees and takes ownership for it, then the company can rebound.

Don’t stay stuck for long

I have to admit that on more than one occasion, I’ve fallen into this trap of living in the past.  Now if I find myself start heading down that path of negative thinking, I mindfully tell myself to knock it off. The past is in the past.

If I hear the CEOs and executives I work with going down this negative path, I tell them it’s okay to have a pity party, but you need to make it quick so you aren’t dragging anyone down with you. This is one party where you don’t want to invite any of your employees or your team members. Make it short, and move on!

Don’t look back, ooh a new day is breakin’
It’s been so long since I felt this way
I don’t mind ooh where I get taken
The road is callin’, today is the day

I can see, it took so long just to realize
I’m much too strong not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I’ll turn it around, oh yes I will

It’s a bright horizon and I’m awakin’ now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way

— Boston, “Don’t Look Back”

Once you put the past behind you, it is like a new day is breakin’. You will feel like a new person after you realize that living in the past has been holding you back and holding you down. When you finally realize and admit your negative energy is part of the problem, then it is a bright horizon and you can see yourself and your company in a brand new way.

So today you find you are looking in the rear view mirror on any topic, acknowledge it, learn from it, then rip off the mirror and start looking out through the windshield. The road ahead is much more exciting.


Brian’s Musical Inspiration:

RIFF: This is the title track and first song on Boston’s second album. Their debut album is one of the best selling of all time, so there were great expectations for this one. The song is about looking ahead and making the most of your time on Earth.

BAND ON WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_(band)

WEBSITE: http://bandboston.com/

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HuiH-0R6a0&nohtml5=False

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