They’ll fade but might not disappear

I heard something the other day that disturbed me.

I was listening to a talk about professional and personal development – being clear about what we’re aiming for, having a plan, continuous learning, being persistent, being positive – all good stuff.

Quite rightly, the talk also covered our past – where we’ve come from. And where we are now – our present. On any journey we need to know where we’re starting from.

What concerned me about this talk was the suggestion that negative things in our past don’t impact our future. I’m not sure I agree. It’s my belief and experience, both observed and personal, that some of them do.

I’m not an advocate of dressing things up and being ra, ra about a situation when things might actually be pretty bad. Harsh though it may be, I’m an advocate of being brutally honest about where we’re at.

(I’m also not a fan of bearing one’s soul in public. But let’s be honest with ourselves and have the courage to honestly share with someone we trust, someone who listens well, someone who cares and someone who may be able to help – we all do better with someone along side us.)

We all have bad stuff that happens to us. That’s how life’s set-up – a constant stream of problems (challenges if you prefer) for us to overcome.

Sometimes we make bad decisions. Sometimes our actions are poor. All those poor decisions and actions have consequences. Sometimes those consequences don’t matter. Sometimes good comes out of those consequences. And sometimes those consequences stick around.

Yes, they have an impact that stays with us. The impact may lessen over time but it may always be there. In the same way that a broken leg may heal but we still walk with a slight limp and our days of playing top flight football might be over. Or the scar left from a gashed arm might fade but will never totally disappear.

This is true in our business and professional lives and it’s true in our personal lives.

We can and should pick ourselves up, accept and live with those consequences, and move forward – being clear about our aim, having plans, continuously learning, being persistent, being positive, etc. More than anything or anyone else, we have the power to create our own futures. But please let’s not pretend that bad stuff, of our own making or as a result of just plain misfortune, doesn’t have an impact on our futures.
With the right approach, we can learn from our past and use it to strengthen us and help us create a good future – but we might also have to carry the pain and consequences of bad decisions, poor actions and miss-fortune with us for some time.

Mark Dyble

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