Some years ago (now I come to think about it, many years ago) I went through a very unpleasant, painful and traumatic situation in my business life. Full of rage, I went to see a good friend, a very clever and mature lawyer, to see what could be done.
After allowing me to vent my spleen for an hour or so he stopped me and said: "I'm going to put three points to you. Firstly, I'm not going to charge you for this discussion (I did say that he was a good friend), secondly, if you hadn't told me who you were in business with, I would have told you. He's got form, he's done it before and he'll do it again".
Then came the clincher, a message that quite literally changed my life.
"Finally", he said: "I'm going to give you some advice". Goody, I thought, here comes the great legal mind applying itself to my problem and coming up with a great legal solution.
"Go home" he said: "Draw a line in the sand and get on with living your life from today. Don't waste your time, effort or emotions on a situation that you can't change".
Somewhat chastened, I did as I was told and ten days later landed a contract that set me up for a year and started my solo business career.
During that time I have had many business leaders, in mentoring sessions, tell me about traumatic events which had blighted their lives and how it had made them resentful, irritated and, in some cases, even looking for revenge. My friend's sage advice always comes to mind on these occasions.
The problem is that we often only learn about the event, when we should learn from it to enable us to move forward in a positive manner. VIstage speaker, Nigel Risner's equation of E + R = O (event plus response equals outcome) encourages leaders to realise that the event is immutable and cannot be changed. The only thing in which we have discretion is our response and that must depend on the outcome that we want.
It isn't always easy to draw that metaphorical line in the sand and move forward, but the rewards are there for the taking for those with the courage to do it. It isn't enough to march bravely backwards into the future with our eyes firmly fixed on the past; it's today and what comes with it that matters, and which offers us an opportunity to effect change for the better..
The simple question "Does it really matter?" or, even better, "Will it matter in twelve months' time?" will put the situation into perspective. Of course, it is often necessary to revisit the past but it is only of value if we really learn from and not just about what happened, and then take action to ensure the future.
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