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Sunday, 16 July 2017

Living In The Past? Live Now And Go Bravely Into The Future!

June 2017 was an emotional time for me as, somewhat to my surprise, I reached my 25th anniversary as a Vistage group chair.  

It was a very heartwarming time and perhaps I may be excused a little personal reflection.

I am eternally grateful for the constant support of my wife Hilary, my wonderful Vistage groups, chair colleagues and everyone at Vistage UK not to mention the combined efforts of the National Health Service and the pharmaceutical industry.

An anniversary like this can set off an orgy of hoary reminiscence and that can be excessively boring so I have avoided it. Apart from mentioning that I have been involved in over 3,500 one-to-one mentoring sessions and heard more than 400 speaker presentations I have kept well away from looking back, as far as I can, that is.

That is not to say that we all have happy memories and why ever not recall them to give us pleasure.  

The past, good, bad or irrelevant, will always be with us and the trick is to use it as a tool, not as a comfort blanket.   We can’t change what has happened and there are too many people who live in a world of “if only…..”.

The brilliant Israeli-American psychologist, Dr Amos Tversky with his colleague Dr Daniel Kahneman evolved a theory that proposed a link between decision making and feelings of regret.  On the basis that we feel regret at a poor decision, one that could have been more adventurous or even our inability to make a decision the conjunction seems logical.

The point is that regret, if it is evident, is a product of our past and we need to harness the vast amount of knowledge and experience that we keep in the database we call memory. Regret is a useless emotion unless we use it solely as a learning experience. Otherwise it can eat us up in the certain knowledge that nothing can be done to  change the situation.

The equation E+R=O (event plus response equals outcome) encapsulates the position precisely. The event has passed and nothing can be done to change it. However the response to an event is absolutely in our own hands and we can always affect the outcome for the best given some careful thought.

I believe that instinct or gut-feeling is actually our rational brain searching out memory bank for previous experience that can colour our response to any event and that says, trust your feelings.

We all know the mantra that says we learn from the past, we live in the present and we plan for the future (or at least, should in all cases) but how often do we get them out of kilter.  The worst alternative is to live in the past and hope for either more of it or some way that it can be altered for the better..

What can be changed is our reaction and response to the past so that the path to the future will be, if not exactly flower strewn, at least one that we have planned positively.

We shouldn’t  live our lives by walking bravely backwards into the future with our eyes firmly fixed on the past.

Live life forwards.  My next anniversary, G-d willing,  will be my Vistage CEO group’s 25th birthday in June 2018 and I am starting the planning right now.

Thank you to everyone who have been so kind in their comments, messages and calls.  I never realised that I had so many great friends.


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