"I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That's where the fun is." ~Donald Trump
"What we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all our tomorrows." ~Alexandra Stoddard
I’ve talked about planning ahead and learning from failure in a number of posts, I’ve talked about it in videos and I’ve presented at conferences on the topic. The reason we talk about it so much is that it helps us grow and helps us efficiently plan for the future so we can get the most out of ourselves and teams. But if you’re spending a huge portion of your time on these two things you may be undermining all of your efforts.
Remember that all of the management and leadership books also talk about action, and action happens in the NOW. Yes, you need a plan and that comes from learning and anticipating (which come from the past and the future), but consider these three things when allocating your time:
Worry can be a by-product of planning and learning – One of the reasons this post exists is that I had several wonderful days at work because I was locked in “execution mode”. I had already laid out the plan and I just need to work it through to completion. It was just some of the best days I’ve had in the last couple of months. I wasn’t worried about whether I had learned enough from the past or trying to anticipate every possible obstacle that could appear. I was just working in the NOW and not worrying.
Some of us get trapped in a vicious cycle of worry because there is ALWAYS something we could be learning from our past experiences and there is literally an infinite amount of things we could plan for in the future. What you want to stay away from is the Law of Diminishing Returns where your worry/planning/learning is having an increasingly small benefit.
So slow down on all of the worry and make time to plan and learn, but also make time to work.
The Now is when you progress towards your goals – Hey, all the planning and
learning in the world doesn’t help you if you don’t put that knowledge and plan into action. When you find yourself working in the NOW, enjoy it, you’re getting closer to your goal.
It makes you “present” in the operation – One of the worst things you can do as a Leader is to isolate yourself in your office. There is far less of a chance of that occurring if you are focused on what is happening and what you are doing NOW.
In all things you need to seek balance. You hear a lot about planning for the future, because there are a lot of people who struggle to find the time to do that. You hear a lot about learning from past mistakes because a lot of people try to forget and ignore their mistake
s. I would propose that you need to put the NOW on the list to focus on as well. After all, as the quote above say; that’s where the fun it.
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