It doesn’t take special powers to see what we “woulda, coulda, shoulda” done in the past, after the fact.
We all have regrets about the past… an opportunity we missed, if we only knew what we know now.
They say hindsight is 20/20. But it takes foresight to combine a vision of the future with the right action properly informed by the past.
Nelson Mandela said: “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes time, and vision with action can change the world.”
Well, you may not be out to change the world, but here are a few things you can do to make the most of every past, present and future opportunity:
Don’t fight your last war.
In 1929, Lieutenant Colonel J. L. Schley, of the Corps of Engineers wrote: ““There is a tendency in many armies to spend the peace time studying how to fight the last war.”
It’s natural to rely on past experience. But sometimes focusing on what worked or didn’t work last time can blind us from seeing a better way. So before you move forward, ask yourself if you are fighting your last war.
Learn from others.
Reflecting on your experience is critical. But so are the experiences of others. Instead of relying solely on your own wins and losses, learn from others. Join a study group and seek out best practices and benchmarks to compare and contrast your business at every opportunity.
Moving forward is about motivation and the story we tell about the past. We all lose motivation sometimes, and the best thing to do is think about past accomplishments and get nostalgic about what it felt like to win the day.
So if 20/20 hindsight is about what we “woulda, coulda, shoulda” done, then let’s make 20/20 foresight about looking back to look forward for a better understanding of the connections between the past and the present—always doing and never wishing we did.
“Layin’ in the sun
Talkin’ bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From the one little did.”
— Shel Silverman